Saddam's still alive?

from: maybe he's staying at Osama's house?

YDNEY, Australia (May 7) - An Australian newspaper said on Wednesday it had been handed an audiotape in Baghdad of a message, possibly from ousted leader Saddam Hussein, calling on the Iraqi people to wage a ''secret'' war against U.S. forces.

The Sydney Morning Herald said it was handed the tape on Monday after the people in possession of it failed to pass it on to Arabic cable news network al-Jazeera.

It said it would make the tape available to U.S. authorities on Wednesday, and also to al-Jazeera.

''The Herald played the tape, allegedly recorded two days ago, to an Australian linguistics expert and to more than a dozen Iraqis. The overwhelming opinion was that the voice and rhetoric were very similar, or identical, to Saddam's,'' the paper said.

In a 15-minute monologue, a tired-sounding voice, interspersed with coughs, tells Iraqis how to ''face the invaders and kick them out from Iraq.''

''It sounds as if we have to go back to the secret style of struggle that we began our life with,'' the voice said, according to the Herald's translation.

''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 of the country.''

Two men gave the newspaper the tape on Monday after seeing its vehicle, marked ''press,'' near the Palestine Hotel, where most foreign correspondents in Baghdad are based. They had wanted to enter the hotel but took fright at a U.S. Marine guard.

The Herald's translator said the men spoke with accents from Saddam's home region of Tikrit and claimed Saddam had made the speech that morning and wanted it broadcast to all Iraqis.

The voice refers several times to the occupation of Iraq by foreign forces, to Saddam's birthday on April 28 and accuses the U.S. army of looting the Iraqi National Museum.

It calls on Iraqis to reject any new leaders ''working with the foreigners'' and to rise against the occupying powers by ''not buying anything from them, or by shooting them with rifles and trying to destroy their cannons and tanks.''

Herald acting foreign editor Connie Levett said that the linguist consulted by the newspaper was ''70 to 80 percent sure'' it was Saddam's voice, and that a cross-section of Iraqis the Herald correspondent played the tape to also believed it was him.

''So there's very strong anecdotal evidence to support the claim and the linguist is also fairly sure,'' Levett told Reuters Television.



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