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Al Qaeda in Iraq Targets Christian Church

The Islamic State of Iraq, an branch of Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), took credit for last night’s massacre at a Baghdad church that killed 52 Iraqi, claiming the attack was designed to avenge the treatment of Muslim women in Egypt.

Al Qaeda fighters armed assault rifles, grenades and explosive-laden vests first struck the nearby stock exchange where to guards were wounded. Wearing uniforms of a Al Qaeda in Iraq Targets Christian Churchlocal security company and having lured security forces to the area, they then proceeded to storm the Our Lady of Deliverance church and took 120 Christians hostage, according to reports from the AP.

Two hours later, after cordoning off the church, Iraqi security forces stormed the church, sparking a gunbattle that resulted in 52 Iraqis killed and 67 wounded. Two priests, ten Iraqi policemen, and the entire suicide squad was killed during the battle, according to reports. At least thirty of the people were killed when one of the al Qaeda terrorists either detonated his vest or lobbed hand grenades at the Christian hostages being held in the basement.

Five terrorists, including one foreign born fighter, were captured.

Al Qaeda released a statement on the Internet claiming the attack.

“Upon guidance issued by the Ministry of War in the Islamic State of Iraq in support for our downtrodden Muslim sisters that are held captive in the Muslim land of Egypt and after accurate planning and selection, an angry group of righteous jihadists attacked a filthy den of polytheism. This den has been frequently used by the Christians of Iraq to fight Islam and support those who are fighting it. With the grace of God, the group was able to hold captive all those in the den and take over all its entrances.”

It now seems that AQI fighters had hoped to hold the Christians hostage for at least two days to provide a deadline for the “the release” of Egyptian women supposedly being held in Coptic churches in Egypt.

The mujahidin in the Islamic State of Iraq give Egypt’s Christian and belligerent Church as well as its chief of infidelity a 48-hour ultimatum to disclose the status of our sisters in religion, who are held captive in Egypt’s monasteries of infidelity and churches of polytheism,” al Qaeda demanded. “The mujahidin further demand the release of all of them together with an announcement of the release via a media outlet that the mujahidin can access within the deadline.”

Al Qaeda said that if the demands were not met, “the lions of monotheism [al Qaeda’s fighters], who wore their explosive belts, will not hesitate to kill the militant Iraqi Christian captives.”

The Islamic State of Iraq threatened to carry out attacks against Christian churches around the globe.

Afterwards, various attacks will be launched against them inside and outside this country, in which their lands will be destroyed, their strength will be undermined, and they will be afflicted by the humiliation that God ordained for them,” al Qaeda said.

The attack in Baghdad took place days after an AQI suicide bomber killed 21 people and wounded 65 more in an attack on a cafe in the town of Balad Ruz in Diyala province, marking the first major attack of its kind in nearly a month.

Today, Pope Benedict condemned the attack in remarks to pilgrims gathered to hear his prayer in St Peter’s Square for the Catholic All Saints’ Day holiday.




Reid Smith

Reid Smith has worked as a research associate specializing on U.S. policy in the Middle East and as a political speechwriter. He is currently a doctoral student and graduate associate with the University of Delaware's Department of Political Science and International Relations. He blogs and writes for The American Spectator.