- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 17, 2003

BAGHDAD — A speaker purporting to be Saddam Hussein, in an audiotape broadcast yesterday, urged Iraqis to escalate attacks on Americans and called on U.S. and other coalition forces to leave the country “as soon as possible and without any conditions.”

The speaker, who sounded like the ousted Iraqi leader, also urged America’s international partners not to “fall prey in the traps of American foreign policy” and to reject any plan for Iraq that legitimizes military occupation.

He called on coalition leaders “to withdraw your armies as soon as possible and without any conditions, because there is no reason for further losses that will be disastrous for America if your officials … continue their aggression.”

He accused President Bush of lying to “your people and everyone” to justify the war against Iraq, adding that “the losses in your army … makes your declaration of defeat and your retreat inevitable, if not today, tomorrow.”

The war began in March after Saddam ignored U.N. orders to account for his weapons of mass destruction, which the Iraqis insisted they no longer possessed. U.S. investigators have been unable to find such weapons since occupying Iraq.

The 14-minute tape attributed to Saddam was broadcast by the Dubai-based Al Arabiya satellite television station. News editor Aymen Gaballah said the tape was received yesterday in Baghdad. The speaker said the tape was recorded in mid-September.

It was at least the eighth such message attributed to Saddam since his ouster.

Addressing Iraqis, the speaker said he was bringing “pleasant news” that “losses have begun to eat away at the enemy like wildfire.”

He also warned America’s partners on the U.N. Security Council to avoid agreeing to any plans for Iraq that leave the country under military occupation. “We hope that none of the Security Council members falls prey in the traps of America’s foreign policy,” the speaker said.

Coalition troops face ongoing attacks by Iraqi resistance fighters and foreign intruders, described by the Bush administration as remnants of the ousted regime. Yesterday, three bombing attacks were reported against U.S. troops about 12 miles north of Baghdad.

U.S. officials say Iraqi insurgents have been joined by limited numbers of foreigners, some with suspected links to al Qaeda. However, the U.S. military said yesterday it had “no firm evidence” any prisoners it has taken in the continuing occupation of Iraq are American or British.

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