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Iraqi information minister a hit in cyberspace

Fan site mulls Sahaf quotes, who will portray him in movies

Saeed al-Sahaf's proclamations have earned him a cult following on the Web.
Saeed al-Sahaf's proclamations have earned him a cult following on the Web.

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LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- A member of Saddam Hussein's vanquished regime has sprung up as an unlikely hero in cyberspace on a Web site embraced by both supporters and foes of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Television news junkies transfixed by daily briefings by Iraqi Minister of Information Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf are now logging onto a few days-old Web site featuring his finest invective against U.S. and British "infidels."

The site describes itself as a "coalition effort of bloodthirsty hawks and ineffectual doves" united in their admiration for al-Sahaf and his pronouncements, such as: "I now inform you that you are too far from reality."

Among al-Sahaf's now-famous declarations was: "There are no American infidels in Baghdad. Never!"

Writer and former Greenpeace activist Kieran Mulvaney, a Briton living in Alaska, said he and friends got the idea for the site while watching cable news coverage of the three-week-old war.

"I mentioned to one of my friends that the best part is watching this guy," Mulvaney told Reuters. "He is so brazen that I could almost admire him."

Mulvaney and his friends designed, built and put up the site in three days. Within hours of going live on the Internet, the site "has exploded," Mulvaney said. The same day, U.S. troops marched into Baghdad and al-Sahaf disappeared, or in the view of his new Web site, went on "administrative leave."

"I hope he is alive somewhere so he knows how famous he has become," Mulvaney said. "We've had all kinds of e-mail from literally all over the world. We even had a few e-mails from within the Pentagon saying, 'We really like this guy and we miss him.'"

The site already is offering T-shirts and mugs bearing al-Sahaf's best-loved statements ("My feelings -- as usual -- we will slaughter them all!") and has selected actor and director Sydney Pollack to play the information minister in the Hollywood version of the war.

In the meantime, Mulvaney said he will appeal for sightings of al-Sahaf, and there are plans to poll fans about what the beret-wearing minister should do after the war.

One fan has advocated an urgent campaign to spare al-Sahaf if he is found: "He is too much of a global asset to be murdered/shot/stabbed or otherwise wasted."

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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