Friday, September 15, 2006

The Taha Murder

A group purporting to be a local arm of al Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the brutal murder of Sudanese journalist Mohammed Taha. AP has the details:

The claim in the slaying of Mohammed Taha Mohammed Ahmed, whose body was found last week, was issued by a previously unknown group called al-Qaida in Sudan and Africa. The authenticity of the claim, posted on the Web site of Al-Arabiya television, could not be independently confirmed.

Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was based in Sudan until the late 1990s when the government threw him out and he moved to Afghanistan. Since then, members of the group have operated in eastern Africa. But until Tuesday's claim, no group had announced itself as al-Qaida's branch in Sudan, along the lines of those in Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

Ahmed, the editor-in-chief of Al-Wifaq, was snatched from his home in eastern Khartoum on Sept. 5 and his body was found a day later.

"Thanks to God's grace, ... execution was carried out against a dog of the dogs of the ruling party, the atheist journalist Mohammed Taha, who defamed our Prophet Muhammad," the statement said.


Ahmed sparked controversy last year after his paper republished an article from the Internet that questioned the parentage of the Prophet Muhammad. In May 2005, scores of Sudanese gathered in front of the capital's courthouse demanding a death sentence for Ahmed.

The paper was temporarily suspended by the government and was eventually fined more than $3,000. Ahmed apologized in a letter to the press saying he did not intend to insult the prophet. Blasphemy and insulting Islam can bring the death penalty in Sudan, which has been governed by strict Islamic Sharia law since 1983.


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