Al-Zarqawi Targets Iraqi Leader

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- U.S. forces launched an airstrike targeting militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi after his group beheaded a South Korean who had pleaded "I don't want to die" in a heart-wrenching videotape.

Another audio recording purportedly made by al-Zarqawi and found online Wednesday threatened to kill Iraq's interim prime minister.

"As for you [Iyad] Allawi, you didn't know that you have survived already traps we made for you, but we promise you that we will continue the game until the end," the online recording said.

The Arabic language satellite television channel Al-Jazeera broadcast a videotape of a terrified Kim kneeling, blindfolded and wearing an orange jumpsuit similar to those issued to prisoners at Guant?namo Bay, Cuba.

Kim's shoulders were heaving, his mouth open and moving as if he were gulping air and sobbing. Five hooded and armed men stood behind him, one with a big knife slipped in his belt.

One of the masked men read a statement addressed to the Korean people: "This is what your hands have committed. Your army has not come here for the sake of Iraqis, but for cursed America." South Korea is a U.S. ally in Iraq.

The video as broadcast did not show Kim being killed. Al-Jazeera said the tape contained pictures of Kim, 33, being killed, but the channel decided not to air it because it could be "highly distressing to our audience."

After news of Kim's death broke, South Korean television showed Kim's distraught family weeping and rocking back and forth with grief at their home in the southeastern port city of Busan.

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun, addressing the nation on television Wednesday, strongly condemned terrorism and rejected the kidnappers' claim that the 3,000 new troops his government is sending would hurt Iraqis.

"The South Korean plan to send troops to Iraq is not to engage in hostilities against Iraqis, or other Arab people, but to help reconstruction and restoration in Iraq," Roh said.

U.S. troops found Kim's body between Baghdad and Fallujah about 5:20 p.m. Iraq time, South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Shin Bong-kil said.

U.S. President George W. Bush condemned the beheading as "barbaric" and said he remained confident that South Korea would go ahead with plans to send the troops to Iraq. South Korea will be the largest troop contributor after the United States and Britain.

"The free world cannot be intimidated by the brutal actions of these barbaric people," Bush said.

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