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CIA Says Saddam Tape Likely Authentic

CIA Says Saddam Tape Likely Authentic

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The CIA has determined the lastest audio message purportedly from Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, in which he marks the deaths of his sons, is most likely authentic, a CIA official said Wednesday.

The CIA's technical analysis of the message matched very closely with other recordings of Saddam's voice, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

The voice on the message said it was made in July 2003, but the exact date was not clear. CIA officials aren't certain of the exact date the recording was made, but the references to the July 22 deaths of Saddam's sons Odai and Qusai mean it was almost certainly made during the last week.

It was aired Tuesday on the Al-Arabiya satellite channel, which broadcasts across the Middle East and in Iraq.

For all the uncertainty during the war, American officials now hold little doubt that Saddam is alive and in Iraq, perhaps moving every few days. The audio messages making references to recent events are evidence of his survival.

In the latest, nine-minute, audiotape, Saddam said he was glad his sons were killed because such a death "is the hope of every fighter."

"Even if Saddam Hussein has 100 sons other than Odai and Qusai, Saddam Hussein would offer them the same path," said the voice identified as Saddam. "That is the hope of every fighter for God's sake, as another group of noble souls of the martyrs has ascended to their creator."

Before the Tuesday broadcast, the last audio recording attributed to Saddam was aired by Al-Arabiya on July 23. That tape carried no mention of the sons, and the speaker claimed to have made it July 20. U.S. intelligence officials said it probably was authentic.

Another recording said to have been by Saddam purportedly was made on July 14. U.S. intelligence officials said that recording probably was authentic, too.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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