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CIA to study tape said to contain Saddam's voice

Audio message urges resistance against 'invaders'

U.S. soldiers gather evidence along a highway in Baghdad after action involving an army convoy Friday.
U.S. soldiers gather evidence along a highway in Baghdad after action involving an army convoy Friday.

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(CNN) -- The CIA will analyze the latest audiotape purportedly of Saddam Hussein to determine whether the voice on the tape broadcast Friday by Al-Jazeera is actually the ousted Iraqi leader who now has a $25 million dollar price on his head.

"The CIA will do its usual assessments. They have not had an opportunity to begin it yet, as the tape was just released," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Friday.

The assessments are expected to include both technical analysis and comparisons by people familiar with Saddam's voice.

"We don't know if he's dead or alive," Fleischer said. "Regardless, he's out of power; regardless, there's a reward out for information that either results in his capture if he's alive, or proves that he's dead if he's dead."

On the streets of Baghdad, Iraqis told CNN that the voice sent shivers down their spines. One Iraqi said he had listened to broadcasts by Saddam for 30 years, and that the voice was definitely that of the deposed Iraqi president.

Several Iraqis said they thought Saddam was gone and that they would never hear from him again.

The purported voice of Saddam can be heard praising resistance against the U.S. occupation and urging Iraqis to protect the "mujahedeen" in their fight against the "invaders."

"Brothers and sisters, I have for you good news. Jihad cells and brigades have been organized," the speaker said, according to a CNN translation of the audiotape that was broadcast on the Arabic-language satellite TV network.

The voice on the tape said it was recorded June 14 and urges the Iraqi population to support the resistance. The speaker refers to actions "related to confronting the enemy and the aggression."

The speaker said the damage inflicted by fighters against "the infidel invaders" is greater than what people have been hearing, and predicted more bad times for coalition forces.

"No recent days and weeks have passed without the blood of the infidels being shed on our pure land as a result of the jihad of the mujahedeen. What the coming days will bring will be, with God's help, hard on the infidel invaders and which is a source of honor for the believers."

The speaker urges the "heroic mujahedeen ... not to give the infidel invaders and supporters" any information about them or their actions "during their execution of jihad operations."

A previous audiotape purported to contain Saddam's voice was released in early May, about a week after his 66th birthday. On that tape, an unemotional and tired-sounding voice called on the people of Iraq to reject the "invaders," while promising that victory was coming. (Full story)

On Thursday, the United States announced a $25 million reward for Saddam's capture or confirmation of his death. A $15 million reward each was offered for similar information about Saddam's sons, Uday and Qusay. (Hometown view of bounty)

The United States blames remnants of Saddam's government -- Baathists and Republican Guard members -- for many of the attacks that have killed 27 U.S. troops since President Bush declared the end of major combat May 1.

One soldier killed, 17 wounded since Thursday

U.S. soldiers shoot TOW missiles at a Soviet-made Iraqi tank on the outskirts of Habbaniya on Friday for a fireworks display to mark the U.S. independence day.
U.S. soldiers shoot TOW missiles at a Soviet-made Iraqi tank on the outskirts of Habbaniya on Friday for a fireworks display to mark the U.S. independence day.

One U.S. soldier has been killed and 17 wounded in attacks since Thursday night, according to U.S. military officials.

A soldier was killed Thursday night by small-arms fire in Baghdad while guarding the Iraqi National Museum, according to U.S. military sources.

The soldier from the 1st Armored Division was in the gun turret of a Bradley fighting vehicle when he was shot, U.S. Central Command said.

A mortar attack Thursday night on a U.S. Army base near Balad, about 50 miles [80 kilometers] north of Baghdad, wounded 16 soldiers, according to Central Command. Two soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division area of operations are being treated at the 21st combat support hospital. Fourteen other soldiers were treated for minor injuries and returned to duty.

In a neighborhood west of Baghdad, an explosion occurred after an Iraqi civilian truck pulled in front of a U.S. military convoy. One U.S. soldier was wounded by shrapnel, military officials said.

In more violence Friday morning near Balad, a 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry patrol from the 3rd Infantry Division battled assailants on Highway 1. All 11 attackers were killed, Central Command said.

Other developments

• President Bush celebrated the 227th anniversary of America's independence Friday by declaring the country "still at war" and saluting the efforts of U.S. military men and women. "The enemies of America plot against us. And many of our fellow citizens are still serving and sacrificing and facing danger in distant places." (Full story)

• Bush's challenge of "bring 'em on" to Iraqis opposed to the U.S.-led occupation has drawn criticism from Democrats, including presidential candidate Dick Gephardt, who said the president should stop the "phony, macho rhetoric." Fleischer said the president was expressing confidence in U.S. troops, not daring Iraqis to attack Americans. (Full story)

• Japan's powerful lower house has given the green light to the nation's biggest foreign military deployment since World War II, passing a law that allows about 1,000 soldiers to be sent to assist in the rebuilding of Iraq. (Full story)

• Coalition officials opened the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad for two hours Thursday to display gold and jewels from the ancient Assyrian Empire, an exhibition containing what some believe to be among the most important archaeological finds of the 20th century. The antiquities initially were believed to have been stolen in the looting that followed the fall of Saddam's government. (Full story, Audio slide show: Iraqi treasures unveiled)

Correspondents Jane Arraf, John King and Barbara Starr contributed to this report.

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