CAIRO, Egypt – The wife of slain Al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi said she feared for her husband's life and warned him to leave Iraq, but that he refused to "betray" his religion, according to a statement posted on the Internet Thursday.
The woman — who identified herself only as "Um Mohammed," which means "mother of Mohammed" — said she advised al-Zarqawi to leave Iraq temporarily and give orders to his deputies from outside the country. The insurgent leader died June 7 in a U.S. airstrike outside Baqouba, northeast of Baghdad.
Al-Zarqawi "gave me an angry look and said, `Me, me? I can't betray my religion and get out of Iraq,"' his wife said.
"In the name of God, I will not leave Iraq until victory or martyrdom," she quoted al-Zarqawi as saying.
In a message to Usama bin Laden, she said her husband was "only one soldier in the ranks of your army, and there are so many soldiers."
"As long as our sheik Usama — our leader and the one who makes infidels angry — as long as he is fine, our agony from the death of our leader Abu Musab is bearable," the woman said in a statement posted on an Islamic Web site that frequently airs militant messages.
The woman identified herself by the same name as in an interview published Sunday in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, in which she said Al Qaeda leaders sold out al-Zarqawi to the U.S. in exchange for a promise to let up in the search for bin Laden. The Rome-based newspaper said the woman was interviewed in Geneva and described her as Jordanian and about 40.
Thursday's Internet statement did not repeat the claims about the Al Qaeda-U.S. deal, nor did it mention the Italian report.
Instead, she said al-Zarqawi's death was a stroke of luck for the Americans, repeating an assertion made in a Web statement last month by the Mujahedeen Shura Council, an umbrella group that includes Al Qaeda in Iraq.
"If you were truthful that you monitored and chased him for a month before his death, it would have been better for you to capture him alive, but you are lying as usual," she said to U.S. forces.
The woman vowed revenge against American troops and Iraqi officials, whom she called "rented donkeys."
"The curse of Abu Musab will follow you, until you get devastated and slaughtered," she said. "The biggest battle is coming and I want to give you the good news by saying that only one of every 100 of you will survive."