BEIRUT (Reuters) – Radical Palestinian group Islamic Jihad said on Sunday it had sent a first wave of suicide bombers to Baghdad to help Iraqis fight U.S. and British troops.
“Al-Quds Brigades brings to our people and nation the good news of the arrival of its first martyrdom (attackers) to the heart of Baghdad,” a faxed statement from the armed wing of Islamic Jihad said.
“This is to fulfil the holy duty of defending Arab and Muslim land,” it said.
Islamic Jihad also claimed responsibility on Sunday for a suicide bombing in a crowded pedestrian mall in the Israeli seaside town of Netanya that injured at least 30 people.
Islamic Jihad’s Lebanon representative, Abu Imad al-Rifai, confirmed the statement. He said the suicide bombers had not come from Palestinian territories but from several countries.
Rifai declined to say how many potential Islamic Jihad suicide bombers had gone to Iraq (news – web sites) but said more were on the way.
“Some have already arrived and others will come later,” Rifai said. “If there are means for people to go, they will.”
Asked if the Islamic Jihad members said to have gone to Baghdad had orders to carry out suicide bombings, Rifai said: “Yes, correct.”
“A part of the role they are carrying out and have dedicated themselves to is fighting American occupation in Iraq and defending the Iraqi people,” he said.
Islamic Jihad is listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.