- The Washington Times - Monday, July 9, 2007

IRAQ

Terrorist warns Iran to stop support

DUBAI — The leader of an al Qaeda-linked group in Iraq vowed in an audiotape yesterday to attack Iranians unless Tehran cut off its support for the Iraqi government within two months.

“We give the … Persians in general, and leaders of Iran in particular, two months to withdraw their support and presence in Iraq,” Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, leader of the self-styled Islamic State in Iraq, said in a 50-minute audiotape.

In the first such threat by his group, al-Baghdadi said that unless Iran met his demands, the group would wage a “brutal war” against Iranians. He did not say whether the group would mount attacks inside Iran.

IRAQ

U.S. says al-Sadr returned to Iran

BAGHDAD — Fiery Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has gone back to neighboring Iran, U.S. military sources in Baghdad said yesterday.

Earlier this year, U.S. officials said the anti-American cleric was hiding in Iran to avoid a major security crackdown in Baghdad, although his aides say he never left Iraq. An absence of several months ended with a May 25 speech in the city of Kufa.

“Our sources do show Muqtada in Iran,” one U.S. military source said, declining to speculate on the reasons for the return. A senior aide to Sadr denied that the cleric had left Iraq.

NIGERIA

Kidnappers release British girl, 3

PORT HARCOURT — A British toddler was released by gunmen in southern Nigeria yesterday and reunited with her parents, who said she was fine but hungry and covered in mosquito bites.

Mike Hill, the father of 3-year-old Margaret Hill, told Sky News by telephone that no ransom was paid.

Gunmen seized Margaret while the car taking her to school idled in traffic Thursday in Port Harcourt, an oil-industry center. Her Nigerian mother, Oluchi Hill, said the abductors threatened to kill the girl if the parents did not meet their demands.

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