CAIRO, Egypt – A Sunni insurgent coalition in Iraq announced Monday the appointment of an education minister to the group's so-called 10-member "Islamic Cabinet," set up in April to challenge the Iraqi government.
In a statement posted on an Islamic Web site, the Islamic State of Iraq, made up of eight insurgent groups, including Al Qaeda in Iraq, said its leader Abu Omar al-Baghdadi chose Mohammed Khalil al-Badria for the education position.
Al-Baghdadi tasked al-Badria with "protecting our sons against moral and ideological deviation and raising a new generation of sons of Islam based on true Islamic teachings and away from the filth of secular tenets."
The authenticity of the statement could not be verified, but it was published by an Islamic Web forum that usually carries announcements by militant groups.
The statement also said al-Baghdadi fired the group's chief judge, Abu Suleiman al-Otaibi, replacing him with Abu Ishaq al-Jubouri, but without providing a reason.
The formation of the Cabinet in April was meant to present the Islamic State of Iraq as a "legitimate" alternative to the U.S.-backed, Shiite-led administration of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki — and to demonstrate that it was only growing in power despite the U.S. military push against insurgents.
The group includes the new leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, as "war minister" and Sheik Abu Abdul-Rahman al-Falahi as "first minister." The U.S. military has identified al-Muhajer by a different pseudonym, Abu Ayyub al-Masri.
Other positions include ministers of information, "prisoners and martyrs," agriculture and health.
Al Qaeda in Iraq is blamed for some of the deadliest suicide bombings against Shiite civilians, as well as numerous attacks on U.S. troops and Iraqi soldiers and police.