CAIRO -- An Islamic website posted a videotape yesterday that appeared to show militants in Iraq beheading a man called in the tape's title a CIA agent. The authenticity of the videotape could not be verified immediately.
A US official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said CIA officials have accounted for all employees and no one is missing. US officials were working to determine whether the tape was authentic, the official said.
The Internet site, which Islamic extremists often use to post tapes and statements, displayed footage of eight militants surrounding a seated man. A sign around the man's neck showed his photograph and carried a message saying he was a CIA agent and what appeared to be an official pass bearing the word "visitor" written in English.
The footage, titled "Video of the beheading of an American CIA operative in Iraq," lasted more than four minutes and included several scenes, including a masked militant holding a large knife to the captive's throat.
On the tape, a man is heard telling the captive in Arabic, "Put down your hand. This is the last time; next time I will gouge your eyes out." Then in English, he tells the captive, "Open your eyes, open your eyes."
The footage was shot during daylight hours in a house that appeared to be in a rural area. Date palm trees could be seen behind a mud brick wall. The location of the house was not given in the videotape. The page on the website that carried the footage included the words Al Qaeda. There was nothing else linking Al Qaeda to the tape.
The eight militants shown on the tape were armed, one with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, and wore traditional black or white Arab robes that are often seen in rural Iraq.
The captive, who appeared to be Caucasian and wore a brown T-shirt and light-colored pants, was shown seated on a chair in what appeared to be the courtyard.
In a subsequent shot, a masked man was shown standing alongside the captive holding a large saberlike sword. The masked man then severed the head.
The militant then held the head aloft and other voices repeatedly yelled "Allahu Akbar" -- Arabic for God is great.
The tape did not identify the group shown in the footage. Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has claimed responsibility for previous beheadings in Iraq, including American Nicholas Berg.
On Saturday, a video posted on a militant website that purportedly showed an American being decapitated in Iraq was a hoax.