CAIRO, Egypt (AP) — The purported leader of an al-Qaida-dominated insurgent umbrella group in Iraq has called for the murder of all members of the country's main Sunni Arab political party, in an audio message posted Tuesday on militant Web sites.
Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State in Iraq, said in the half-hour audio message that members of the Iraqi Islamic Party had 15 days to repent, but that its leaders should be killed immediately.
"We hereby declare the Islamic Party, with all its tendencies, its leadership and its members, to be an enemy of God and his prophet," he said. "It is a sect of apostasy which should be killed wherever its members are found."
Al-Baghdadi singled out five leaders to be killed immediately, including Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi. He promised an unspecified reward for their deaths.
The comments appeared designed to tap into opposition to the Iraqi Islamic Party, the main Sunni political faction in parliament, which is locked in a bitter power struggle with Sunni groups that turned against al-Qaida in Anbar province and elsewhere.
Those Sunnis, organized in Awakening Councils, believe they deserve power at the expense of the Islamic party, which is part of the Shiite-led government.