TEHRAN, Iran – Iran's (search) supreme leader on Tuesday accused U.S. and Israeli agents, not Muslims, of responsibility for the wave of beheadings and kidnappings in Iraq, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (search) also described terrorism as a "loathsome, horrible" and said fighting it was "of great importance."
In comments made during a meeting with visiting Singaporean Prime Minister of Singapore Goh Chok Tong (search), Khamenei said: "We seriously suspect the agents of the Americans and Israelis in conducting such horrendous terrorist acts and cannot believe the people who kidnap Philippines nationals, for instance, or behead U.S. nationals are Muslims."
The state-run agency, which carried Khamenei's comments, did not elaborate on his remarks.
Iraqi-based insurgents snatched Filipino truck driver Angelo dela Cruz (search) last Wednesday in one of the latest kidnappings by militants involved in the continuing violence in Iraq.
Insurgents had said they would kill dela Cruz, 46, by Monday evening if the Philippines did not agree to pull its 51-member peacekeeping force by July 20. The government on Monday restated that its troop commitment ended Aug. 20. Tuesday there was no word of what had happened to dela Cruz.
Numerous Islamic militant groups have claimed responsibility for similar operations in the country, including the beheadings of an American and a South Korean.