Al Qaeda-Linked Group Claims Baghdad Attack That Killed American

An Al Qaeda-linked coalition of Iraqi Sunni insurgents claimed responsibility on Thursday for an attack on a convoy in Baghdad that killed an American democracy worker from Ohio.

The Washington-based National Democratic Institute identified its slain staffer as Andrea Parhamovich, 28, of Perry, Ohio. Three security contractors from Hungary, Croatia and Iraq were also killed in the ambush.

Parhamovich had working with NDI in Iraq since late 2006 as a communications specialist advising Iraqi political parties on how to reach out to voters and constituents helping "build the kind of national level political institutions that can help bridge the sectarian divide and improve Iraqi lives," the NDI said in a statement.

"There is no more sacred roll of honor than those who have given their last full measure in support of freedom," said NDI's chairman, former secretary of state Madeleine K. Albright. "Yesterday, in Iraq, Andrea Parhamovich and our security personnel were enshrined on that list."

"They did not see themselves as heroes, only people doing a job on behalf of a cause they believed in. They were not the enemies of anyone in Iraq; they were there to help," Albright said in a statement.

The National Democratic Institute supports democratic processes and institutions worldwide. Its staffers in Baghdad run training programs in democracy and political participation, as well as women's rights. The group has had staffers in Iraq since June 2003.

Gunmen opened fire on the three-vehicle convoy on Wednesday in the in Yarmouk, a predominantly Sunni neighborhood in western Baghdad.

The insurgent coalition issued a claim of responsibility on an Islamic Web site, saying, "Praise be to God, in an attack with light and medium weapons and RPG's in the Yarmouk area in Baghdad on Jan. 17, two SUVs belonging to the Zionist Mossad were destroyed and a third one was severely damaged."

The statement was signed by the spokesman of the "Islamic state in Iraq," the so-called Islamic government that Al Qaerda in Iraq and several other Iraqi Sunni Arab insurgent groups declared earlier last year. The statement's authenticity could not be independently confirmed. It was posted on a Web forum where Sunni insurgents often release messages.

The group did not say anything about how many were killed or their nationalities but Al Qaeda, usually refers to foreigners whose nationalities unknown to it as members of the Mossad, the Israeli spy agency.

Two others were wounded in the attack, one seriously. The ambush took place at midday as the group returned from a program elsewhere in Baghdad, according to NDI.

Parhamovich, a graduate of Marietta College in Ohio, was the first full-time worker for NDI to be killed in Iraq. A security contractor for the organization was killed in March 2004.

Complete coverage is available in's Iraq Center.