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Alleged Saddam Tape Urges Iraqis to Fight

Alleged Saddam Tape Urges Iraqis to Fight

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- An audiotape broadcast Friday purporting to carry the voice of Saddam Hussein issued a new call to arms and said the former leader will "at any moment" defeat the American occupation forces and return to power.

The tape also said looters of government property should not worry about retribution from Saddam and instead should join the guerrilla war and become "a loaded rifle in the face of the invading foreigner."

The voice on the tape sounded like Saddam, but its authenticity could not immediately be confirmed. The tape was aired by the Arab satellite channel Al-Jazeera, and the speaker said the recording was done Sunday.

The voice said Saddam had faith that "God will support us, and that one day the occupation army will falter and that victory is possible at any moment."

The audiotape, the fourth to be broadcast in just over two weeks, appeared to be an attempt to rally more Iraqis to the guerrilla war being fought against American troops by assuring people they had nothing to fear upon Saddam's promised return to power.

On Thursday, four days after the tape allegedly was recorded, Saddam's daughters Raghad and Rana, whose husbands were executed on Saddam's orders in 1996, were granted refuge in Jordan with their nine children.

Jordanian Information Minister Nabil al-Sharif told The Associated Press that King Abdullah II decided to offer them refuge because "they are Arab women who have run out of all options."

The whereabouts of Saddam's wife, Sajida Khairallah Telfah, and his youngest daughter, Hala, were unknown. His sons Odai and Qusai were killed in a July 22 firefight with U.S. troops in a villa in Mosul in northern Iraq.

The audiotape broadcast Friday included an apparent bid to boost the numbers of those actively fighting the Americans by implying a general amnesty for looters of government property.

"We have decided to consider all the properties of the party and the government a gift to whoever has it, to use as they see fit, to keep or to sell without any restrictions, free from any legal constraints, now or in the future," the voice said.

"We feel bitterness about what has happened, but we are insistent on taking the responsibility to save our people and brothers, even those who have betrayed the nation and cooperated with the criminal invaders," the speaker said.

"We feel that not handling this case with caution would make those concerned feel guilty and fear the future and commit the crime of treason.

"God forbid they should do that, that they should aid the foreigner as a result of this destructive feeling, instead of being a loaded rifle in the face of the invading foreigner and being a part of the pious struggle and not fearing the future," the speaker said.

Also Friday, a natural gas pipeline near Baiji, 75 miles north of Baghdad, was burning for a second day. Maj. Michael Panciera of the 4th Infantry Division there said the Americans believed the explosion and fire that began at 8:30 p.m. Thursday was accidental.

Five mortar shells also exploded Thursday night outside a Polish military logistics base in the Iraqi city of Hillah, 60 miles south of Baghdad, but no one was injured, according to the Defense Ministry in Warsaw.

Dozens of Polish, Bulgarian, Romanian and Hungarian troops are stationed at the base.

Defense Ministry spokesman Col. Eugeniusz Mleczak said there was no information about who fired the shells, which caused no damage.

In Washington, Secretary of State Colin Powell announced Thursday that the informant whose tip led to the deaths of Odai and Qusai Hussein should get the combined $30 million reward that was on their heads.

For his protection, the informant has not been identified, although people in Mosul have speculated it was the owner the house being used by the brothers as a hideout. Military officials in Iraq said the tipster was in protective custody.

In the hunt for the former leader, the Army has created images of what Saddam could look like after three months on the run, although it refused to release the pictures to the public.

In continuing attacks by insurgents, two more U.S. soldiers were killed Thursday, bringing to 51 the number of Americans to die in combat since May 1, when President Bush declared major combat over.

One soldier was killed and three were wounded when an armored personnel carrier ran over a mine in Baghdad on Thursday, and a soldier died from small-arms fire northeast of the city late Wednesday.

The deaths brought to 166 the number of combat deaths since the invasion began -- 19 more than were killed in the 1991 Gulf War.

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

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