BAGHDAD – The United States wants Saddam Hussein (search) dead or alive, and on Thursday it offered a $25 million reward for information leading to the ex-Iraqi dictator's capture or proof that he is dead.
"We believe it is important to do everything we can to determine his whereabouts, whether he is alive or dead, in order to assist in stabilizing the situation and letting the people of Baghdad be absolutely sure that he's not coming back," Secretary of State Colin Powell told reporters in Washington.
Word of the reward is being spread in Iraq and the rest of the Arab world on the U.S. government-run station Radio Sawa.
U.S. officials have said the continuing mystery over Saddam's fate is encouraging resistance against the U.S.-led occupation, as the daily ambushes and other attacks against Americans increase. At least 26 U.S. troops have been killed in hostile fire since major combat was officially declared over on May 1.
The bounty was posted in a prepared release by the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority (search), said Sgt. Amy Abbott, a U.S. military spokeswoman in Baghdad.
The statement read:
"The U.S. government is offering a reward of up to $25 million for information leading to the capture of Saddam Hussein or confirmation of his previous death.
"The U.S. government is offering a reward of up to $15 million for information leading to the capture of his sons Udai and Qusai or confirmation of their previous deaths."
The reward for Saddam matches the $25 million the United States has offered for Usama bin Laden, the Al Qaeda leader missing since U.S. forces entered Afghanistan and helped topple the Taliban regime.
In April, the United States offered unspecified rewards to Iraqis who provide information about government officials and weapons of mass destruction. Officials have not said whether anyone has collected any of those rewards.
Saddam was last reportedly seen alive in the war's waning days in the Azamiyah neighborhood of northeastern Baghdad. At least two U.S. airstrikes targeted him during the war, but it is not known if any were successful.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.