04/18 - TV footage said to show Saddam on April 9 - East Valley Tribune: Nation / World

04/18 - TV footage said to show Saddam on April 9

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Posted: Friday, April 18, 2003 8:31 am | Updated: 1:44 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

DOHA, Qatar - Abu Dhabi television aired pictures Friday of what it said was Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in the streets of Baghdad last week being greeted by a cheering crowd of Iraqis, then later played the audio of a purported speech by the toppled leader.

"Aggressors are always defeated," Saddam said in the purported taped address to the Iraqi people. "Conquered people are the ones who eventually triumph over invaders. ... Your leadership is unshaken."

The speech, like the video footage, was reportedly from April 9 - the day U.S forces moved into Baghdad. The footage and speech, if authentic, would mean an April 7 American bombing aimed at killing the Iraqi president was unsuccessful.

The United States said it was studying the videotape.

However, an Iraqi envoy loyal to Saddam said Friday he was confident the Iraqi president was killed by the coalition bombing of Baghdad.

"I know his character," Iraq's ambassador to Belgrade, Sami Sadoun, told The Associated Press in an interview. "The defense of Baghdad would not have collapsed so quickly if he was not dead."

The videotape showed Saddam, clad in a black beret and an olive-green military uniform, moving through the crowd as people cheered: "With our bloods and souls we redeem you, oh Saddam."

Helped by guards, Saddam climbed on the hood of a car. Some of those cheering him held AK-47 assault rifles.

Alongside Saddam stood a man who resembled his son, Qusai. Though there was nothing to indicate definitively when the pictures were taken, there was a background haze that could have been dust - or smoke from U.S. bombardments.

In the 10-minute speech, Saddam's voice sounded subdued. The audio was played as a still picture of the ex-Iraqi leader was shown, and the station did not reveal the source of the audio.

"He who is shaken or whose faith is in question should remember that all hard times come to an end," Saddam said in what an Abu Dhabi's TV correspondent characterized as a "farewell speech."

At U.S. Central Command in Doha, a spokesman said he could not comment on whether the footage showed the real Saddam or a double.

"If he is still alive, it's a matter of days," said Ensign David Luckett. "His days are certainly numbered. He is no longer in power and that is quite obvious .... It was never about one person, it was about liberating a country."

In Washington, a U.S. intelligence official said it was too soon to tell if the broadcast was authentic. Some intelligence suggests Saddam prerecorded some material to air during the war, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Abu Dhabi TV's correspondent, Jaber Obeid, said the person who handed the tape to the network assured them that it was shot in Baghdad on April 9.

The station said the pictures, taken in the tree-lined Azamiyah neighborhood of Baghdad, "showed that there were parts of Baghdad that hadn't fallen at that day and that still had Iraqi security presence in them."

The videotape was shot from a distance and alternated between zooming in on Saddam and panning the crowd. In the video, Saddam wore a large gold chain around his neck and appeared both pleased and haggard. His face seemed more gaunt than in previous televised speeches.

The United States is still searching for Saddam inside Iraq, particularly in Baghdad and in the city of Tikrit, his hometown.

In late March, during the first days of the war, Saddam appeared several times on Iraqi state television, first looking tired and puffy-eyed and, later, stronger as he promised to fight on and defeat the Americans.

On April 7, a man identified as Saddam was shown on Iraqi TV being greeted in the streets of Baghdad. However, that footage showed a Saddam who appeared leaner and somewhat younger than the man shown in other recent footage.

Later on April 7, U.S. forces bombed Baghdad's al-Mansour neighborhood after getting a tip that Saddam had entered a building there.

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