CAIRO, Egypt – A statement posted on the Internet along with a video of what appears to be a Turkish hostage being shot to death claims the masked man who fired the gun is leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq.
It would be the first public appearance of Abu Ayyoub al-Masri, also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, since he succeeded Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was slain in a U.S. airstrike on June 7.
The items were posted Friday night. The statement said the recording, the authenticity of which could not be independently verified, was "old" but gave no other indication about when it was made.
Three men masked in red and white scarves stand behind the hostage who is seated on the ground wearing a tan shirt. The militant in the middle, believed to be al-Masri, reads a statement in Arabic, then the hostage, identified in Arabic subtitles as Murad Bujer from Ankara, reads a statement in Turkish.
After Bujer finishes, the militant in the middle shoots the now-blindfolded hostage three times in the head.
The scarves make it impossible to identify the three militants. However the statement says the execution was performed by al-Masri.