'Saddam' Tape Urges Iraqis to Fight Americans

Published September 18, 2003

| Associated Press

A new audiotape purporting to carry the voice of ousted dictator Saddam Hussein (search) was broadcast on Arab television Wednesday, demanding that U.S. troops withdraw from Iraq and saying that their defeat is inevitable.

The speaker on the tape also called on Iraqis to join the resistance against the U.S.-led occupation and take to the streets in protests.

Addressing the Americans, the speaker said, "Your withdrawal from our country is inevitable. And tired.

At least eight audiotapes attributed to Saddam have been aired on Arab media since the Iraqi leader disappeared after being ousted in April. The most recent before Wednesday's was aired on Sept. 1, and the CIA (search) said it was likely authentic.

The recording Wednesday was aired by the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya (search) satellite television. News editor Aymen Gaballah said it was received Wednesday in Baghdad after someone called the Al-Arabiya office in the Iraqi capital to say there was a new tape.

"They left the tape for us in a nearby place and we collected it," Gaballah said. He said the tape was aired in its entirety, 14 minutes.

The voice said Iraqis must take to the streets in demonstrations against the occupation, to "beat the walls in protest" and to donate money to the resistance.

"Now I give you pleasant news. The losses have begun to eat away at the enemy like wildfire ... you must increase your grip and armed struggle."

U.S. forces in Iraq have been plagued by guerrilla attacks blamed on Saddam followers since the Iraqi leader was ousted in April, hampering efforts to rebuild the country.

In a newspaper interview published Wednesday, the commander of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, said U.S. forces now also face revenge attacks from ordinary Iraqis angered by the American occupation.

Also Wednesday, the U.S. military said it had "no firm evidence" that any prisoners it holds in Iraq were American or British, a statement apparently designed to blunt remarks by a U.S. general a day earlier.

Still, the military said it was investigating the claims of nationality by several president, including "persons claiming U.S. and British citizenship."

Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, who is in charge of coalition detention centers in Iraq, said Tuesday that six prisoners claimed to be American and two others claimed to be British. He said the eight were security detainees, meaning they were suspected of involvement in guerrilla attacks.

The eight would have been the first Westerners reported held in the insurrection against the U.S.-led occupation.

North of Baghdad, there were at least three separate attacks on U.S. forces with roadside bombs in less than 1 hours Wednesday morning. Witnesses reported wounded soldiers, but details were unclear. The attacks hit U.S. Humvees (search) about 12 miles north of Baghdad near al-Taji. The military confirmed the first attack and said one soldier was hurt.

While U.S. forces increasingly patrol Iraqi hotspots with American-trained local militiamen, citizens voice growing anger with tactics that are seen as heavy-handed and insensitive to Iraqi social and religious customs.

"We have seen that when we have an incident in the conduct of our operations, when we killed an innocent civilian, based on their ethic, their values, their culture, they would seek revenge," Sanchez was quoted as telling The Times newspaper in London.

Coalition forces want "to ensure that when a mistake has been made and when we have inadvertently wound up killing someone that we go and do the right thing culturally to take care of those families." The Times' report did not elaborate on those steps.

Sanchez's remarks came after the friendly fire killing late last week of eight Iraqi policemen by American soldiers near Fallujah (search), 30 miles west of Baghdad. The military and the U.S. administrator for Iraq, L. Paul Bremer (search), have apologized.

If Westerners are actively involved in the resistance, it would deepen confusion about what groups are involved. Initially, the guerrilla fighters were thought to be Saddam loyalists, but in recent weeks U.S. officials have said they are being joined by foreign fighters, possibly members of the Al Qaeda terror network.

Karpinski's remarks Tuesday about prisoner claims to be U.S. or British raised recent memories of past cases, beginning in Afghanistan, where citizens of those countries were captured while working for or fighting with terrorist organizations.

Asked about the detainees at a Pentagon news conference, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld (search) said: "The truth is that the folks that we've scooped up have, on a number of occasions, multiple identifications from different countries. They're quite skilled at confusing people as to what their real nationality is or where they came from or what they're doing."

The British government said it was investigating the claims.

Also Wednesday, the military announced the death of a soldier serving in the north of the country, saying it was a "non-hostile gunshot incident" on Monday. No other details were available.

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