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Missing '91 Pilot's Initials Found in Baghdad Prison

American investigators may be one step closer to determining the fate of Navy pilot Scott Speicher (more news | Web), who has been missing in Iraq since the first Gulf War.

Investigators have found the initials of Michael Scott Speicher -- "MSS" -- etched into a prison wall in downtown Baghdad. This new information is giving the Speicher family hope of finding their loved one alive after more than 10 years of emotional turmoil.

"They are a strong family with one mission, which is to bring him home -- and they stay entirely focused on that," Speicher family attorney Cindy Laquidara told Fox News Thursday.

The initials were scrawled into a cell wall in the Hakmiyah prison, although it's not known who wrote them, or whether they had anything to do with the missing pilot, U.S. officials cautioned.

But an informant said an American pilot was held at that prison in the mid-1990s, the officials said.

A joint team of operatives from the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency is in Iraq searching for clues to Speicher's fate.

Lt. Cmdr. Speicher, an F/A-18 Hornet pilot from Jacksonville, Fla., and three other pilots flew off the USS Saratoga for a bombing run over Iraq on Jan. 17, 1991, the first night of the Gulf War. During the mission, another Hornet pilot saw a flash and lost sight of Speicher.

The next morning, the Defense Department announced that Speicher's plane had been downed by an Iraqi missile. Several months later the Pentagon classified Speicher as killed in action. But last year the Pentagon revised Speicher's status to "missing in action, captured."

Iraqi officials maintained that Speicher was killed in the crash, but U.S. officials said intelligence reports had led them to change his official status.

Speicher, 33 when he went missing, left behind a wife, a 3-year old daughter and a 1-year old son. Wife Joanne has since remarried.

Speicher's flight suit was found at the crash site, and there have been persistent intelligence reports about a U.S. pilot held in Baghdad.

Laquidara said Speicher's family -- along with U.S. intelligence officials and investigators -- created a list of prisons where they believed Speicher may have been held, and now they are checking each and every one of them.

"All of the information we're getting is encouraging," Laquidara said.

She said the family and U.S. officials have made a timeline of where and when they believe Speicher was held since 1991 and that they have credible information leading them to believe he was still being moved around within the past year -- meaning he may still be alive.

Iraqi defectors have reported unconfirmed sightings of Speicher for several years.

"We have connected up the time from 1991 through the beginning of this year and in various prisons and locations," Laquidara said, "and certainly all of the information coming together is consistent -- that's as far as I can go."

"We've been receiving quite a bit of classified information over the last couple years, and certainly of course a lot more since the war has heated up over there," Speicher's nephew, Richard Adams, told Fox News Thursday. "And we are determined and without a doubt we know that Scott survived the ejection of his plane and was held captive sometime after the first Gulf War."

Laquidara said it was typical for Saddam Hussein's regime to move POWs around to various prisons. The seven American POWs recently rescued by U.S. Marines in Iraq said they were moved several times during their captivity.

"He's probably being moved around and we need to find him," Laquidara said. If Speicher is alive, she said, he's likely to be dressed in Arabic clothing, not western wear.

Asked if she is able to say whether news of the initials on the prison wall gives the Speicher family more hope of finding Scott alive, Laquidara said: "Yes, I can."

"I can say it's to the point where I feel as if perhaps I should be over there looking myself -- we're anxious."

Laquidara also said Florida's members of Congress, the Bush administration and the CIA have been very helpful in the search, and that the CIA is working tirelessly to find the pilot.

America's U.N. ambassador, John Negroponte, planned to raise the question of Speicher's fate at a Security Council meeting Thursday.

"If there's one person who can survive this, if there is one person who can get through it with his strong faith in God, his strong moral character and his belief in his country, it would be Scott Speicher," Adams said.

And there is a need for speed in the search, since Saddam and many members of his leadership are either missing or dead. The Speicher family is convinced that the truth about what happened to Speicher lies with them.

"They recognize as well as we do -- time's running out," Laquidara said.

Only one U.S. service member remains listed as missing from Operation Iraqi Freedom -- Army Sgt. Edward J. Anguiano, 24, of Brownsville, Texas, who disappeared after his convoy was ambushed March 23.

Fox News' Liza Porteus and Jonathan Wachtel and The Associated Press contributed to this report.