WASHINGTON – The voice recording of someone purporting to be Saddam Hussein (search) that aired on Arab satellite television station Al Jazeera (search) on Friday is probably authentic, CIA officials said Monday.
But the poor quality of the recording is preventing officials from saying that deduction is 100 percent certain.
"The CIA's assessment, after a technical analysis of the tape, is that it's most likely his voice," CIA spokesman Bill Harlow said Monday. "The exact date of the recording cannot be determined."
A CIA official confirmed the assessment to Fox News.
The speaker on the tape claims the recording was made on June 14. Intelligence officials said there were no references in the message that absolutely ruled out the possibility that it was prerecorded before then.
"I am still present in Iraq along with a group of (former Iraqi) leaders," said the voice on the tape. The voice also said he is with a "comrade" in Iraq.
Intelligence officials said the recording is filled with background noise that prevents their technical analysts from being more certain. Al Jazeera said someone called them and played the tape over the telephone and that the recording was made that way, also contributing to the poor quality of sound.
A CIA official told Fox News that a 'fully' positive voice identification is unlikely.
As pervasive as the background noise is, the official said it yielded no clues as to Saddam's possible whereabouts or living situation.
Still, the CIA's determination that the tape was probably authentic would further buttress most intelligence analysts' belief that Saddam survived the war, including at least two attempts aimed at killing him.
In the recording, the speaker claiming to be Saddam said he is still in Iraq and directing attacks on American forces there. He called on Iraqis to resist the "infidel occupiers" of the U.S.-led occupation.
Coalition forces have been under attack by Iraqi militants almost daily in Iraq, leaving 27 American and six British soldiers dead since the war was officially declared over by President Bush on May 1.
Claiming credit for armed attacks on U.S. occupation forces in Iraq, the voice, addressing Iraqis, said, "Oh brothers and sisters, I relay to you good news: Jihad (holy war) cells and brigades have been formed."
Last week, the U.S. government put a $25 million bounty (search) on Saddam's head, and offered $15 million for each of his sons, Odai and Qusai. American officials say the mystery over Saddam's whereabouts fuels anti-U.S. attacks by his loyalists.
In the audiotape, the speaker says: "People have been asking why they haven't heard the voice of Saddam Hussein. We face a lot of trouble in getting our voice to you even though we have been trying."
On the quick collapse of his regime, the voice said: "We have sacrificed the government. But we will not sacrifice our principles or surrender."
The voice continued: "We refused to hold on to power if that meant submitting to the American threats." The voice added that the previous government preferred to give up power than become a puppet state.
"They wanted to occupy us without a fight and destroy our pride," he said.
He also told Iraqis to not tell coalition forces who is taking part in attacks against American troops there.
"I call upon you to protect these heroic fighters and not give the invaders any information about them or their whereabouts during their operations," the speaker said.
"There is resistance and I know you are hearing about this. Not a day passes without them (suffering) losses in our great land thanks to our great mujahedeen (search). The coming days will, God willing, be days of hardship and trouble for the infidel invaders."
If resistance fighters believe the former Iraqi president is still alive, military officials think it may give them more reason to fight coalition forces.
"We have to assume that Saddam is alive … he is trying to appeal to the Arab mindset," Fox News military analyst Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney said Friday when the tape was aired.
"We need to track it [the tape] and watch it closely. It is a very significant thing."
Other experts had questioned whether the tape was the real deal since most of the attacks against coalition forces have occurred since June 4, when the tape was made, although the voice on the recording refers to those attacks.
Friday's tape isn't the first one to surface purporting to be the voice of Saddam.
In early May, an audiotape found in Baghdad purporting to be of Saddam called on Iraqis to wage a "secret" war against occupying coalition forces. The voice referred several times to the occupation of Iraq by foreign forces, to Saddam's April 28 birthday and accused the U.S. army of looting the Iraqi National Museum.
The Sydney Morning Herald said it was handed the tape after those in possession of it failed to relay it to Al Jazeera.
An earlier video that surfaced showed an exhausted Saddam telling Iraqis that God will help them expel the coalition occupiers. The tape supposedly was made April 9.
Around that time, Abu Dhabi television also broadcast a videotape showing Saddam in the middle of an enthusiastic crowd in the Azamiyah district of Baghdad.
A purported letter from Saddam published April 30 in the London-based Arabic-language newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi urged Iraqis to "rise up" against occupation.
U.S. intelligence and Bush administration officials have always remained skeptical of these communications.
There has been no conclusive evidence so far to determine whether Saddam is dead or alive. Massive bomb strikes were conducted twice on buildings he was thought to be occupying.
Fox News' Ian McCaleb and The Associated Press contributed to this report.