Tue, Jul 10, 2007 - Page 7 News List

Audiotape of Hussein's deputy found

KEEP FIGHTING The voice in the audiotape, believed to be that of Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, encourages his group in `escalating jihad' until the last soldier flees Iraq

AP , BAGHDAD

An audiotape said to be of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's deputy said his group will keep fighting until the last foreign soldier withdraws from Iraq, saying the US is being defeated.

The audiotape purportedly from Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri was obtained in Baghdad on Sunday. It was impossible to determine its authenticity, but several Iraqis familiar with al-Douri's voice said they believed it was his.

It was also unclear when the audiotape was made but the comments referred to Saddam as a "martyr." He was hanged Dec. 30 for his role in the deaths of more than 140 Shiite Muslims more than 25 years ago.

In the tape, the speaker said that the leadership of Saddam's former Baath Party declared that "its only alternative is jihad [holy war], and escalating jihad, until the last soldier of the enemy flees the land of Iraq."

Al-Douri, the highest ranking Saddam-era official still at large, listed several conditions for an end to the "resistance," including the unconditional withdrawal by foreign forces, taking responsibility "for all the he crimes they committed against the Iraqi people" and paying compensation for "all the losses that resulted from the occupation."

"My dear comrades, your enemy is collapsing and is being defeated, so are its followers, agents and spies as a result of your giant Jihadi march," the speaker said.

Al-Douri also criticized efforts by the Shiite-led government to purge thousands of former Saddam supporters from government jobs. He blamed the US and the Iranians for the purge.

He also launched a bitter attack against Mohammed Younis al-Ahmad, who the Iraqi government has accused of funding and leading the insurgency. Al-Ahmad, a former Baath Party official, is believed to be living in Syria.

Earlier this year, Arab news organizations, including the newspaper Al Hayat, said that dozens of former Baath officials met in January in the Syrian city of Homs and elected a new leadership headed by al-Ahmad.

The voice in the tape said that "traitor Mohammed Younis" was in Syria where the "Syrian intelligence, regrettably, in coordination with American intelligence and that of the [Iraqi] government of agents are taking well care of him and he is well treated as they prepared him to play his traitor's role against the party, the people and the steadfast resistance."

"They thought that [al-Ahmad] will be able to finish the party and people but all their wishes were empty because they did not know that a traitor is a traitor," the voice continued.

Ibrahim said al-Ahmad's group was still operating only because of Syrian intelligence agencies "in a desperate attempt to make the occupation project successful in Iraq and the nation."

The Baath party leader warned Syria it will be next if the Baathists are defeated in Iraq saying "the first to be targeted after the Baath will be brotherly Syria and its dear leadership that we care about."

It is not known where al-Douri lives, but Iraqi President Jalal Talabani recently said he lives in Yemen.

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