'Saddam,' in Audiotape, Calls for Holy War

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A speaker purported to be Saddam Hussein (search) denounced Iraq's newly formed Governing Council as a tool of the country's American occupiers in an audiotape aired Thursday on Al-Arabiya (search) satellite television.

The reference to the council, which was formed by U.S. administrators and met for the first time on Sunday, indicated the message was new. The tape was aired on a holiday marking a 1968 coup that brought Saddam's Baath Party (search) to power.

The speaker also called for a jihad, or holy war, against the American-led administration and accused President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair of tricking their own people to justify the war in Iraq.

"What will they say to their people and to mankind. What will the chorus of lies say to those that backed them?" said the voice. Bush and Blair have come under increasing criticism at home over some of the intelligence used in the runup to the war.

The tape, which reporters familiar with Saddam's voice said sounded authentic, aired for about five minutes. There was no way to independently authenticate that the voice was the ousted Iraqi leader's.

The Governing Council, formed after months of consultation, includes a wide range of Iraqi factions and ethnic groups, with Shiite Muslims (search) -- harshly oppressed under Saddam's rule -- holding a majority.

One of the council's first acts was to abolish holidays marked by Saddam's regime -- including Thursday's anniversary of the Baath coup.

"How can the people benefit from employees named by the foreign occupiers?" the speaker said of the council. "What can those named by the foreign occupier offer to the people and the nation other than the will of the occupier?"

The council was "made by the will of the foreigners, therefore it is the servant of the foreigner and not a servant of the people."

"Anything issued by occupation is to weaken Iraq. The only solution ... is a jihad to resist the occupation," he said.

The tape is the third supposed recording of Saddam to emerge since his regime crumbled in April.

The message follows another audiotape purportedly from Saddam aired July 5 in which he told Iraqis he is still in the country organizing resistance to the U.S.-led occupation. CIA officials said at the time that the voice was likely Saddam's but they could not be certain because of the recording's poor quality.

That tape was issued a day after the United States put a $25 million reward on Saddam's head. The speaker on the July 5 tape claimed it was recorded June 14, pronouncing, "O brothers and sisters, I relay to you good news: Jihad cells and brigades have been formed."

Subsequently, on July 8, several Arabic television channels played another recording that they claimed to be new but which was identical in wording to a tape first released in May.