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CIA: New audio tape likely contains Saddam¡¯s voice
( 2003-07-19 10:24) (Agencies)

A CIA analysis has determined that an audiotape aired on Arab television this week was "probably" the voice of Saddam Hussein and could have been recorded in recent days, a U.S. intelligence official said on Friday.

"It cannot be determined with absolute certainty because the quality of the tape is not good, but the assessment is that it is probably Saddam Hussein's voice," the intelligence official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

"The exact date of the recording cannot be determined, but it could very well have been recorded in recent days," the official said.

That would support the perception that Saddam survived the war in which two U.S. bombings specifically targeted him and his two sons. U.S. forces have been operating on the assumption that Saddam was alive and probably hiding in northern Iraq where his hometown of Tikrit and former power base is located.

The audiotape message that aired on two Arab satellite television networks on Thursday called for resistance "to inflict losses and evict the enemy from Iraq."

Saddam's fate has been a mystery since Baghdad toppled to U.S. forces in April. Without hard evidence of Saddam's death, Iraqis hold onto a view that the former Iraqi president could be alive and possibly regain power.

That has fueled attacks on American troops and hampered efforts to bring stability to the country, U.S. officials say.


Saddam loyalists are believed to be behind the nearly daily attacks on U.S. troops, which Gen. John Abizaid, who heads U.S. Central Command, has called "a classical guerrilla-type campaign."

Videotapes that emerged during the war after two U.S. bombings targeted Saddam and his two sons were generally believed to have been prerecorded so they did not provide clues about whether he had survived the attacks.

But the audiotape aired on Thursday and a previous one on July 4 appeared to have been recorded more recently because of the substance of the comments, officials say.

On the most recent audiotape, the speaker attacked the formation in Baghdad of Iraq's new U.S.-backed Governing Council which was inaugurated on Sunday, saying it could not serve the Iraqi people.

U.S. and British allegations that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction were described as "baseless" and the speaker vowed that resistance against U.S. occupation would intensify.

The tape's broadcast by Al Arabiya and Al Jazeera satellite television stations coincided with the 35th anniversary of the rise to power of Saddam's Baath Party in Iraq.

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