- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 19, 2003

A new videotape of Saddam Hussein appeared on Arab television yesterday, showing the ousted dictator walking among gleeful supporters in a north Baghdad neighborhood.
Abu Dhabi television, which aired the tape, said it showed Saddam in the Adhamiya district April 9, the same day that U.S. Army soldiers and Marines captured Baghdad and fanned out across the city. The date is after the allies directed two bombing raids specifically at Saddam and his two sons, Uday and Qusai.
A U.S. intelligence official said yesterday that analysts have concluded that the man in the video is "more likely than not" Saddam. The official said further study is needed to determine the date.
Saddam's whereabouts have been a mystery since the war began March 19. The United States says it does not know whether he is dead or alive.
The television station's assertion that the taped scene is on April 9 presents the unlikely scenario that Saddam stood at the center of a raucous political rally in daylight while American troops were blocks away and allied surveillance aircraft flew overhead. This has led some U.S. officials to believe that the appearance was recorded before the war started.
"I would view with skepticism that it was taped on April 9," the intelligence official said.
Abu Dhabi TV yesterday also played what it said was an audiotape of Saddam. "No matter how long the invasion and occupation last, [the Iraqi people] are bound to achieve victory over their invading enemies, the enemies of God," the voice says at one point. He does not refer to any specific events since the war began.
Saddam, who for security reasons rarely walks Baghdad's streets, is known to dispatch doubles to some events. But this tape also shows him with his younger son, Qusai. Analysts say Qusai was not likely to appear with a Saddam impersonator.
The tape's timing is important. Just two days before April 9, the U.S. dropped four bombs on a building in west Baghdad after intelligence sources said Saddam was attending a meeting there. Since then, the U.S. has picked up communications "chatter" saying Saddam is dead.
The CIA has not confirmed those reports, but Andrew H. Card Jr., the White House chief of staff, said this week that he believes Saddam is dead.
Another person with the same opinion is Iraq's ambassador to Belgium. "I know his character," Sami Sadoun told the Associated Press. "The defense of Baghdad would not have collapsed so quickly if he was not dead."
If the new tape is real, it would mean Saddam survived the April 7 strike, as well as a bombing conducted on the war's first day, March 19, on a bunkered compound called Dora Farms in south Baghdad.
The Adhamiya neighborhood was a hotbed of activity April 9, the day a Marine tank-recovery vehicle pulled down a giant metal statue of Saddam in downtown Baghdad. A day later, a band of Fedayeen guerrillas and non-Iraqi fighters took over the Imam al-Adham Mosque there. The Marines attacked in a fierce firefight, complete with tank fire and an air strike.
Adhamiya residents have told Western reporters that Saddam had been in their neighborhood earlier that day and spoke to the crowd as he stood on a car.
The videotape on Abu Dhabi TV does show Saddam, dressed in a black beret and green military uniform, climbing onto a car and gesturing to the enthusiastic Iraqis. He then is helped down, gets into the car's back seat and leaves in a convoy with Qusai, his one-time heir apparent.
Other residents told reporters that Saddam was in their neighborhood but before April 9.
This is the second tape released since the war showing Saddam walking in a friendly Baghdad neighborhood. Iraqi TV showed a video of Saddam strolling the Mansur neighborhood, a Ba'ath Party stronghold, and the location of the April 7 bombing. The regime said the street walk occurred April 4.
U.S. intelligence originally believed the tape was most likely made after March 19. But after further analysis, the intelligence officials believe it may have occurred in early March. That would mean Iraq pre-recorded the walk to make it look as though Saddam was still in charge during the war when he was in hiding or dead.
Another wartime tape release that intrigues intelligence analysts shows Saddam appearing on Iraqi TV reading a speech in which he mentioned a downed Apache helicopter. An Apache attack helicopter was downed March 24. This has led the CIA to conclude that it was likely to have been made after March 19, meaning that he survived the first strike.
Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, a spokesman for the U.S. Central Command, said yesterday that U.S. teams have reached the Mansur site and other places where the allies bombed suspected Iraqi leadership.
"We've had some initial surveys to go to that location," he said. "There's still work that's ongoing. But there's a considerable amount of destruction at that location, and it will take a considerable amount of time to completely clear it and others that are like it that require deeper examination."
Gen. Brooks said "there are no initial indications" of whether Saddam's remains sit in a deep bomb crater.
"We don't have any remains that have been identified at this point," he added.

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