Iraq al Qaeda calls for moderates to be killed

DUBAI (Reuters) - An Iraqi group linked to al Qaeda has called for top Sunni Muslim moderate politicians to be killed, saying they worked against Islam and helped U.S. occupiers.

“A valuable reward would be personally delivered by myself to anyone who kills one of the Islamic Party leaders -- a member of parliament or provincial council or a province official,” Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, head of the self-styled Islamic State in Iraq, said in an audio recording posted on Islamist websites.

Iraq’s Islamic Party, which takes part in elections and government, was “at war with God and its Prophet”, he said.

“Members of this party have 15 days to repent, except the five (top leaders) ... we want their stinking heads wherever they may be,” Baghdadi said.

The politicians singled out by Baghdadi included Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi and Abdul Kareem al-Samarrai’i, a leading member of the Islamic Party.

Baghdadi said his group stood by a $100,000 reward it offered a year ago for the killing of Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks over his drawing of the Prophet Mohammad.

Al Qaeda has become increasingly isolated in Iraq. Sunni tribal forces have joined the fight against the militant group and its attacks have fallen about 80 percent from a year ago.

But General David Petraeus, the outgoing U.S. commander in Iraq, said last week al Qaeda remained a dangerous force in the country and U.S. troops must continue to confront it.

Reporting by Firouz Sedarat; editing by Andrew Roche