Published March 20, 2003
BAGHDAD, Iraq – Saddam Hussein urged his people to "go draw your sword" against Americans in an Iraqi national TV broadcast that aired two hours after the U.S.-led war on Baghdad began.
Though Iraqi state-run television claimed the address was live, U.S. analysts had doubts whether that was the case or whether the remarks had been previously taped. "There is debate about that," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Thursday in his first public briefing since missiles starting launching.
Some U.S. officials told Fox that the broadcast was clearly a tape, but The Associated Press reported that Saddam made his remarks after the bombing started, since he was reading from a notepad.
Saddam made no reference to any specifics of the initial attacks on Baghdad in the speech.
Wearing a military uniform and reading from what appeared to be a hand-written speech, the Iraqi dictator accused the United States of committing a "shameful crime" by attacking his country. He vowed that "Iraq will be victorious."
Saddam appeared subdued, and his puffy face showed signs of strain. He wore reading glasses -- something he has avoided in public. He appeared less vigorous than during a meeting of his Revolutionary Command Council last week.
"We promise you that Iraq, its leadership and its people will stand up to the evil invaders, and we will take them to such limits that they will lose their patience in achieving their plans, which are pushed by criminal Zionism," he said.
The broadcast ran two hours after U.S. cruise missiles hit targets in and around Baghdad. American officials said the strike targeted Saddam himself and other leadership figures.
But in his speech, Saddam remained defiant -- if not in his mannerisms, then in his words.
"They will face a bitter defeat, God willing," he said. "You will be able to achieve glory and your despicable infidel enemies will be defeated. Draw your sword and be not afraid."
"This is added to the series of their shameful crime against Iraq and humanity," Saddam said, describing the U.S. president as 'little, evil Bush."
He concluded his address by chanting, "Allahu akbar," meaning "God is great," and saying, "Long live jihad (holy war) and long live Palestine."
U.S. government analysts say this is the first time they know of that Saddam Hussein -- if it was in fact him in the broadcast -- has worn glasses for a televised address. Officials have not made a determination as to whether or not it was him -- he is known to have several doubles. But U.S. officials say other foreign intelligence services have conducted voice print and other analyses and concluded that in fact it was Saddam.
Israeli Foreign ministry officials are reporting on Israeli radio that the government there has concluded that it was Saddam.
After the U.S. strike, Iraqi broadcasters repeatedly announced that the Iraqi leader would appear. Baghdad radio carried a message from his son, Odai, calling on the people to be steadfast and promised them victory.
Mohammed Saeed Sahhaf, the information minister, also on Iraq radio, called on Iraqi people to be steadfast and described this day as a "an eternal day in history and that Allah honored the Iraqis with this test."
Fox News' Carl Cameron and The Associated Press contributed to this report.