- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 25, 2006

CAIRO — An al Qaeda-linked group posted a Web video yesterday purportedly showing the killings of three Russian Embassy workers abducted this month in Iraq. A fourth also was said to have been killed.

The U.S. military in Baghdad meanwhile announced that it had charged two soldiers in the February killing of a civilian near Ramadi, the latest of several such cases to come to light in recent weeks.

The 90-second video, posted on an Islamist Web site that frequently airs militant messages, showed the beheading of two blindfolded men and the shooting of a third.

An accompanying statement by the Mujahedeen Shura Council — an umbrella organization linking seven insurgent groups including al Qaeda in Iraq — said that the victims were the kidnapped Russians and that all four had been killed. Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it had not confirmed the deaths.

In the footage, two men clad in black and wearing ski masks shout “God is great” before beheading the first man. Then one militant appears standing over the decapitated body of a second victim lying in a pool of blood, with the head placed on top of the body.

The footage of the beheading victims shows a closed room with white walls. The shooting appears outdoors in what looked like an alley between buildings.

The video is stamped with the logo of al Qaeda. One at a time, the four men appear on camera, staring ahead and speaking in Russian. Then the camera cuts to the killings.

Footage of the men speaking into the camera is dated June 13, but the footage of the killings is undated.

Four Russian Embassy workers were abducted June 3 after an attack on their car in Baghdad’s Mansour neighborhood. A fifth Russian was killed in the incident.

The captives included the embassy’s third secretary, Fyodor Zaitsev, and three other staffers: Rinat Agliulin, Anatoly Smirnov and Oleg Fedoseyev.

The U.S. military meanwhile announced that Spc. Nathan B. Lynn has been charged with one count of voluntary manslaughter on suspicion of shooting an unarmed man on Feb. 15.

Spc. Lynn and Sgt. Milton Ortiz Jr., both of the 1st Battalion, 109th Infantry (Mechanized) of the Pennsylvania National Guard, were each charged with one count of obstructing justice for purportedly conspiring with another soldier who put an AK-47 near the body of the man in an attempt to make it look as though he were an insurgent.

Sgt. Ortiz also was charged with one count of assault and one count of communicating a threat for a separate incident on March 8, when he purportedly placed an unloaded weapon against the head of an Iraqi man and threatened to send him to prison, the military said.

Both soldiers are being held in Baghdad while awaiting Article 32 hearings to determine whether there is sufficient evidence for a court-martial.

The announcement came after a week in which 12 Americans were charged with killing Iraqis.

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