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They claim to have killed 400 Iranian soldiers in hit-and-run operations. Teheran's Shia government has accused the US of supporting the Sunni group and is trying to persuade President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan to intercede on behalf of the eight hostages.
But the Jundallah deny any link with either the US or the Pakistani government. Although they hold out little hope of their 16 members being freed, they hardly appear to care. "If they hang all the 16 of our colleagues, we do not mind because we know they would be martyrs and will go straight to heaven," said Hameed.
Zubaydah also confirms that bin Laden "approved of contacts and funding" for Jund Allah, a militant Islamic group in northern Iraq which battled the two anti-Saddam Kurdish factions. Jund Allah merged with Ansar al Islam in 2001.
There's little question that U.S. intelligence has done a poor job of investigating links between the former Iraqi regime and al Qaeda. And there's little question that the Bush administration has been too cautious about telling the American public what it has learned about these links.
The U.S. media are strangely incurious about all this. Several officials have expressed surprise that journalists rarely ask about the links. "It's basically you, Jeff Goldberg [from the New Yorker magazine], and Maria Ressa [CNN's Jakarta bureau chief]," one told me.