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Hard to know if Saddam tape is genuine, investigators say

Speaker ridicules new governing council

Speaker ridicules new governing council

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Supporters of the deposed Iraqi leader hold illegal armed demonstrations as alleged Saddam Hussein audio tape surfaces. CNN's Nic Robertson reports (July 17)
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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (CNN) -- An Arabic-language TV network played an audiotape on Thursday purportedly from Saddam Hussein, but investigators said it is difficult to determine if the tape is genuine due to its poor quality.

The voice on the 15-minute tape, aired on the United Arab Emirates-based station Al Arabiya, urges Iraqis to fight coalition forces, which have been under daily attack for more than two months in what an American general called a "guerrilla-type campaign" by allies of the deposed dictator.

Central Command chief Gen. John Abizaid said Wednesday that resistance appears to be composed of midlevel members of the Baath party, Iraq's intelligence services and remnants of the Special Republican Guard.

The speaker on the tape said the door is open for any loyal Iraqi, not a follower of the coalition, to run the country. If Saddam is confirmed as the speaker, it would be the first time he has talked about someone other than himself leading the country.

The message also praises the former ruling party's ascension to power in Iraq 35 years ago and ridicules a newly appointed governing council. Loyalists of the Baath party, which came to power after a coup in 1968, have been blamed for attacks on the coalition forces.

In the past, the day has been celebrated as a national holiday but the governing council canceled it as its first act last Sunday.

"The occupation administration has issued its orders in accordance with instructions by Washington, Tel Aviv and London and appointed a number of those who are ordered by it on the basis of a despicable division of great Iraq," the voice on the audiotape said. "And in this the occupiers have shown part of their intentions and plans to divide Iraq."

Staffers with an Al Arabiya team in Baghdad, which received the tape, believe the voice is that of the deposed dictator.

U.S. intelligence experts are still examining the tape, a U.S. government official said Thursday. This official said the audio quality is considered bad, which means there is a "low probability" of knowing "with clarity" if it is genuine.

The speaker on the tape asked: "How can the people benefit from employees named by the foreign occupier?" and "What can he who has been appointed by the foreign occupier offer the people and the country outside the will of the administration of occupation?"

The tape also referred to as baseless claims that Saddam Hussein's regime had weapons of mass destruction, denouncing those claims as lies by the United States and condemning those Arab countries backing the "aggressors."

The speaker called on Iraqis to resist.

"We are confident that our dignified mujahid and great people who rejected and resisted occupation would reject all orders of the imperialists," the speaker said.

"The only genuine solution that doesn't make the people of Iraq repent is to resist the occupation by jihad, to fight the occupier and throw him out of Iraq."

The tape praises the people of the province of Anbar, northwest of Baghdad, which includes Fallujah, where there has been violent resistance to the U.S. presence. The capital of Anbar is Ramadi, another hotbed of dissent. The populace is largely Sunni.

Saddam's regime favored Sunni Muslims and cracked down on Shiites, who make up more than 60 percent of the country's population.

The coalition hunt for Saddam loyalists is continuing across the country.

CNN national security producer Pam Benson contributed to this report


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