The leader of al-Qaida in Iraq purportedly criticized the country's largest Sunni political party on Saturday for participating in the political process and branded its leader, Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, a "criminal."
In remarks posted on a militant Web site, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, sharply rebuked the Iraqi Islamic Party for what he said was its alliance with US-led forces in the country but said he was not calling for attacks against the group.
The statement came four days after Iraqi officials claimed that al-Masri had been killed by rivals north of Baghdad but the body had not been recovered. The US military later said it could not confirm the report and believed it stemmed from confusion over the killing of another al-Qaida militant.
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