BAGHDAD, Iraq – A videotape posted Thursday on an Islamist Web site purportedly by Fallujah militants vowed to take revenge on Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi (search) for ordering a U.S.-led attack on their city.
The tape was broadcast late Wednesday by Al-Jazeera television and featured a group of men said by the station to be 20 Iraqi soldiers taken prisoner during operations in Fallujah. The men wearing Iraqi uniforms were shown with their backs to the camera.
Al-Jazeera did not broadcast the audio portion of the tape but said the militants promised not to kill the prisoners it was holding but warned others captured later would be slain.
On the Web site, however, the speaker threatened both Allawi and Iraqi Defense Minister Hazem Shaalan al-Khuzaei, saying both had displayed "meanness toward those who are defending their home, their religion and their honor."
"The Fallujah people's revenge will not be extinguished until the end of life and their revenge against Ayad Allawi will be personal."
Allawi ordered the attack on Fallujah after the hard-line clerical leadership there refused to hand over foreign extremists, including Jordanian terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (search). Fallujah clerics claimed al-Zarqawi was not in the city.
On the tape, the speaker labeled both al-Zarqawi's alleged presence in Fallujah and Saddam Hussein's purported weapons of mass destruction as "synthetic phrases" used by those "who sold their religion and their homeland for money, which is a small percentage of what the American mercenaries are earning."
On Wednesday, Allawi's office said gunmen had abducted three members of the prime minister's family from their Baghdad home, and militants said they would be beheaded in two days if the siege of Fallujah was not lifted.
A cousin of the premier, Ghazi Allawi (search), the cousin's wife and their daughter-in-law were seized Tuesday night from their house in the western Yarmouk neighborhood, government spokesman Thair al-Naqeeb said.
A group calling itself Ansar al-Jihad (search) group claimed in a Web posting that it carried out the abductions and threatened to behead the three in 48 hours unless Allawi and his government release all female and male detainees in Iraq and lift the siege on Fallujah.
The claim's authenticity couldn't be verified.