Zarqawi Group Blasts Rice Iraq Visit

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Al Qaeda in Iraq purportedly posted an Internet statement Tuesday blasting Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's (search) recent visit to Iraq and criticizing her calls to include Sunni Arabs in the political process.

The statement, posted on a Web site that has previously carried similar communiques, said Rice was not welcome in Iraq and that she had "desecrated" its land. The authenticity of the statement, which was signed by the so-called spokesman of the group, Abu Maysara al-Iraqi (search), could not be verified.

The group, believed to be led by the Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (search), is held responsible for kidnappings, beheadings and killings and some of the deadliest bombings in Iraq.

Al-Zarqawi, Iraq's most-wanted terrorist, has a $25 million bounty on his head — the same as for Usama bin Laden.

Rice's one-day trip Sunday was her first to Iraq since succeeding Colin Powell in January as the top U.S. diplomat. As national security adviser, she was a chief architect of the war in Iraq and accompanied President Bush on his own surprise trip to Iraq on Thanksgiving Day in 2003.

"The hag wants the participation of the apostates and secularists who are claiming to be Sunnis," the statement said about Rice. "You should know that our [the Sunni] way is fighting you."

"The constitution is written only by those who disavowed their belief in God's book," the statement added. "Our belief entails that the sword and bullets are our way of holding dialogue with you."

Rice met with a number of senior Iraqi officials, including President Jalal Talabani (search) and Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jafaari (search), to discuss Iraq's political process, particularly the writing of the constitution and the inclusion of the underprivileged Sunni Arab minority in the new government.

Sunni Arabs, who dominated under Saddam Hussein, are underrepresented in al-Jaafari's Cabinet and the committee responsible for drafting the document.

Militants belonging to the disaffected Sunni Arab minority are believed to be driving the insurgency, regularly targeting U.S. troops and Iraqi government officials, security forces and civil servants. Iraqi officials have said insurgents killed 230 civilians and 13 Iraqi soldiers and policemen last week alone.

The statement also referred to the alleged desecration of Islam's holy book, the Koran, by U.S. troops at the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Newsweek magazine reported in its May 9 edition that U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo placed Korans in washrooms to unsettle suspects, and "flushed a holy book down the toilet." The report sparked deadly protests around the Middle East and Asia but later was retracted by Newsweek.

"You will not get away with insulting God's book," the statement said.