Iraq: Saddam speaks

Michael Keaney michael.keaney at mbs.fi
Wed May 7 04:26:02 MDT 2003


9.45am update
Australian newspaper handed 'Saddam tape'
Guardian Online
George Wright and agencies
Wednesday May 7, 2003

An Australian newspaper claims it has been handed a two-day-old tape
recording of Saddam Hussein calling on Iraqis to launch a "secret war"
against US and British forces in the country.

The Sydney Morning Herald said the tape was handed to its correspondent in
Baghdad on Monday and that it would pass on the recording to US authorities
today.

In a 15-minute monologue, a weary-sounding voice, interspersed with coughs,
calls on Iraq's people to come together in a revolt against the occupying
forces.

"I don't want to talk in details about the occupation and why and how, and I
am going to focus instead on how to face these invaders and kick them out
from Iraq," it says.

"... It sounds as if we have to go back to the secret style of struggle that
we began our life with. Through this secret means, I am talking to you from
inside great Iraq and I say to you, the main task for you, Arab and Kurd,
Shia and Sunni, Muslim and Christian and the whole Iraqi people of all
religions, your main task is to kick the enemy out from our country."

The newspaper says it played the recording to more than a dozen Iraqis,
including a judge, a law professor and a former acquaintance of Saddam in
exile, and the "overwhelming opinion" was that the voice and rhetoric were
very similar, or identical, to those of Saddam. An Australian linguistics
expert also said the tape was genuine, according to the report in today's
Herald.

"Certainly it's him," the paper quotes an unnamed judge from a Baghdad
criminal court as saying. "I am 100% certain. I deal with physical evidence
all the time."

Talib al Shar'aa, a law professor at Baghdad University, told the Herald:
"We are not experts. We have known many many similar voices to Saddam
Hussein to appear in the past few years, and similar faces as well.

"But this speech sounded very realistically like Saddam Hussein. This is the
first time he has admitted the reality of the occupation. He focuses on the
word occupation, and he admits to being in hiding and working by secret
means. And it sounds to me like this speech is new because he mentioned the
Iraqi people celebrating his birthday on April 28, 2003."

The Herald report said that two men who had the tape approached its staff
after spotting their clearly marked press car near the Palestine hotel on
Monday.

One of the men, who seemed nervous, asked for directions to the offices of
Al Jazeera or Al Arabiya TV while his companion waited behind the wheel of a
taxi.

"When he was directed to the main television base in the Palestine hotel -
guarded by a security cordon of United States troops - he appeared to lose
heart and returned to the car," the newspaper said.

"The Herald's interpreter, Kifah Hameed Mehdi, went after him to ask why he
wanted to talk to the media and the driver of the car handed over a tape,
saying it was a copy of Saddam's most recent speech, made that morning."

The tape will fuel speculation over the fate of the deposed Iraqi leader.
There have been several reported sightings and television broadcasts of him
since the US targeted his palaces with "decapitation" strikes at the start
of the war, but none have been accepted as proof that he is alive. A letter,
supposedly written by Saddam and dated April 28, was published a week ago in
the London-based Al-Quds newspaper.

Meanwhile, the US military said a regional commander of Saddam Hussein's
Baath party on the list of most-wanted Iraqis had been taken into custody.

US central command said in a statement that Ghazi Hamud al-Adib, number 32
on its list, "is now in coalition custody", but gave no details of where he
was taken, if he was caught, or if turned himself in. The number of people
on the list known to have surrendered or been captured now stands at 19.

------

Press play for the voice of Saddam
Sydney Morning Herald
May 7 2003

An audiotape has been handed to the Herald in Baghdad, with this tantalising
claim: it is the voice of Saddam Hussein only two days ago, Ed O'Loughlin
reports.

A tired-sounding voice calls on Iraq's people to stand together in a new
underground war against the occupying forces.

"I don't want to talk in details about the occupation and why and how, and I
am going to focus instead on how to face these invaders and kick them out
from Iraq," it says, pausing to cough.

"... It sounds as if we have to go back to the secret style of struggle that
we began our life with. Through this secret means, I am talking to you from
inside Great Iraq and I say to you, the main task for you, Arab and Kurd,
Shia and Sunni, Muslim and Christian and the whole Iraqi people of all
religions, your main task is to kick the enemy out from our country."

The Herald played the tape, allegedly recorded two days ago, to more than a
dozen Iraqis from various walks of life, including a judge, a law professor
and a former acquaintance of Saddam in exile. The overwhelming opinion was
that the voice and rhetoric were very similar, or identical, to those of
Saddam.

"Certainly it's him," said a judge from a Baghdad criminal court, who asked
not to be named. "I am 100 per cent certain. I deal with physical evidence
all the time."

Two men gave the tape to the Herald on Monday, only after they failed to
deliver it to correspondents for the Arab TV station Al-Jazeera.

Baghdad is still without effective administrative authorities, and at this
point there is no way of verifying whether the voice is Saddam's.

"We are not experts," said Talib al Shar'aa, a law professor at Baghdad
University. "We have known many many similar voices to Saddam Hussein to
appear in the past few years, and similar faces as well.

"But this speech sounded very realistically like Saddam Hussein. This is the
first time he has admitted the reality of the occupation. He focuses on the
word occupation, and he admits to being in hiding and working by secret
means. And it sounds to me like this speech is new because he mentioned the
Iraqi people celebrating his birthday on April 28, 2003."

Su'ad Jasim, a native of Tikrit, Saddam's home town, said she clearly
recognised the accent on the tape as that of her own area.

Two of the groups the Herald played the tape to listened to it sitting
outside in their gardens. On both occasions, neighbours came to the fence to
ask what radio channel Saddam was making his speech on.

The two men who had the tape approached the Herald after spotting our
clearly marked press car near the Palestine Hotel on Monday. One of the men,
who seemed nervous, came and asked for directions to the offices of Al
Jazeera or Al Arabiya TV while his companion waited behind the wheel of a
taxi.

When he was directed to the main television base in the Palestine Hotel -
guarded by a security cordon of United States troops - he appeared to lose
heart and returned to the car.

The Herald's interpreter, Kifah Hameed Mehdi, went after him to ask why he
wanted to talk to the media and the driver of the car handed over a tape,
saying it was a copy of Saddam's most recent speech, made that morning.

As an Iraqi, Mr Mehdi should make sure it was broadcast for the sake of
Iraq, the men said, before driving hurriedly away.

Mr Mehdi said the men spoke with the distinctive accents of Saddam's Tikrit
region.

The voice on the tape refers several times to the post-Baath occupation, and
accuses US forces of looting the Iraqi National Museum.

It also refers to the Iraqi people celebrating Saddam's birthday - possibly
a reference to US claims that a crowd of demonstrators fired on by US
soldiers in Falluja, killing 15, were celebrating the birthday.

The voice on the tape speaks of previous attempts to communicate with the
Iraqi people.

"I addressed some messages before, many messages before," it says. "Some of
them were by my voice and some were addressed to the mass media, but we know
and you know very well the mass media in the whole world is controlled by
the Zionists, and especially by their headquarters in the White House."

Some, however, were sceptical.

"We know the ability of the West to change voices and to mislead people,"
said Fellah Hameed, a sports instructor. "I can't say it's him but maybe
that's because it's a next-generation tape. I'm not convinced."






More information about the Marxism mailing list