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Insurgents in Iraq posted an Internet video late Monday purportedly showing the mutilated bodies of two captured American soldiers killed in June. The video was accompanied by a message claiming that the abduction and killing of the soldiers was carried out in retaliation for the rape and murder of an Iraqi girl and her family in March.

Six American soldiers, from the same unit as the two who were abducted, have been charged in federal and military courts with various crimes related to the alleged incident in Mahmudiyah.

According to the SITE Institute, which tracks international jihadist groups, the video posting was issued by the Mujahadeen Shura Council in Iraq, an umbrella group that claims leadership over much of the insurgency in Iraq. According to SITE, the nearly five-minute video includes “extremely graphic footage” of insurgents displaying and prodding the bodies of Pfc. Kristian Menchaca and Pfc. Thomas Tucker, who were captured from a checkpoint near Youssifiyah on June 16. Their bodies, rigged with explosives, were recovered on June 20.

The video message also includes an audio introduction that claims the video is “revenge for our sister who was dishonored by a soldier of the same brigade,” SITE said. The footage also includes clips of previous speeches by Osama bin Laden and former al Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, killed in an American airstrike on June 7.

American military officials in Iraq immediately condemned the release of the video.

“[Multi-National Division-Baghdad] condemns the release of the video in the strongest of terms; it demonstrates the barbaric and brutal nature of the terrorists and their complete disregard for human life,” the release read. “Coalition forces remain resolute in our commitment to catch perpetrators of this crime and bring them to justice.”

U.S. officials have not commented on reports that the two incidents — the alleged rape and murders and the abduction of the soldiers — are related, other than to say both incidents are being investigated. Many observers doubt the claim of a relationship, with Iraqi officials noting that the alleged rape and murders were not reported until after the Youssifiyah incident.

Former Pfc. Steven Green has pleaded not guilty in federal court to charges of rape and four counts of murder. Four other current soldiers face the same charges in a military court, with a fifth facing charges of dereliction of duty for not reporting the crime when it allegedly occurred in March.

All of the soldiers — including Menchaca and Tucker — are or were assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, military officials have said. The battalion is part of the 101st Airborne Division, but falls under the 4th Infantry Division’s command in Iraq.


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