Visual Confirmation - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

7-23-03

Visual Confirmation

B A G H D A D, Iraq, July 23— Amid plans to release photographs of the bodies of Saddam Hussein's two sons, a new audiotape, purportedly by the former Iraqi dictator, was aired on an Arab satellite channel today. The tape was apparently recorded two days before Odai and Qusai Hussein were killed.

Calling on Iraqis to resist the U.S. occupation, the voice on the tape said the war was not over, although it conceded that the United States had achieved military superiority. But, the tape warned, America would not achieve "supremacy in the battle of wills against the Iraqi people."

The purported Saddam audiotape was aired by the Dubai-based al Arabiya satellite station and was dated July 20, two days before U.S. troops killed Odai and Qusai during a fierce gunfight at a villa in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

The tape's release came as U.S. military officials prepare to release photographs of the bodies, in the hope of erasing doubts and drawing Iraqis further out of the shadow of their former dictator.

The U.S. military, faced with growing guerrilla attacks and a steadily mounting death rate, hope that the killing of Saddam's influential and widely feared sons would bring an end to the violence in Iraq.

But a U.S. soldier was killed and seven others injured when a U.S. military convoy came under attack near Mosul early today.

In another convoy attack in Ramadi, west of Baghdad, a U.S. soldier was killed and two others were wounded.

Convincing Iraqis

Odai's death is expected to be especially significant as he oversaw the Fedayeen Saddam, a ragtag, notoriously violent paramilitary group that has been blamed for much of the violence in postwar Iraq.

"A lot of the attacks taking place are being based on the idea that somehow the Saddams are coming back, he and his sons are coming back," Paul Bremer, the top U.S. administrator for Iraq, told ABCNEWS' Charles Gibson.

"They're not coming back. Two are dead. It won't be long before we get the father," he said.

Tipster Turned In Saddam’s Sons

Already, Iraqis are starting to pass valuable information on to American authorities in Iraq.

The senior U.S. commander in Iraq said Tuesday that a "walk-in" tipster helped U.S. forces locate Odai and Qusai Hussein in a villa in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

When U.S. troops stormed the residence, a fierce gun battle ensued. The brothers were killed along with two other Iraqis. They have not yet been identified, but U.S. officials said they were believed to be Qusai's teenage son and a bodyguard.

Celebratory gunfire rang out across the skies of Baghdad as news of the deaths spread, but many Iraqis remained doubtful.

"We want to see it on television or we won't believe anything," one man told ABCNEWS' Jeffery Kofman in Baghdad.

"Whether they are captured [or] dead, we want to see them," he said.

Bremer spokesman Charles Heatley told Arab television station al Arabiya the faces of the dead men would be easily recognizable in photographs. He said the Iraqis would be convinced once they had seen the bodies.

"There will be no doubt or question over the identity of the two men," Heatley said. "The Iraqi people will recognize them."

Deadly Raid

The senior U.S. commander in Iraq said Tuesday there was no doubt Saddam's sons had perished in the Mosul raid.

"We're certain that Odai and Qusai were killed," Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez told a news conference. "They died in a fierce gun battle."

The six-hour operation involved various military units on the ground and in the air. Among the participants were soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division and Task Force 20, a secret special forces team charged with hunting down members of the former regime, officials told ABCNEWS.

Four coalition soldiers were wounded in the operation and were being treated, Sanchez said.

He planned to release further details of the operation today at a briefing set for 8 a.m. ET.

Sanchez said he expected the informant would be eligible for the two $15 million rewards for information leading to the arrest of Saddam's sons, and Bremer said the success of the raid boded well for U.S. effort to get Saddam.

"We have the possibility of somebody coming with the big one," Bremer said referring to the $25 million bounty offered for Saddam. "Somebody who really wants to get the $25 million reward. It will move the day closer when we get our hands on the father."

There was speculation the deaths of Saddam's sons could lead to information on the whereabouts of the former Iraqi dictator himself.

Dreaded Heirs

Odai, 39, and Qusai, 37, were two of the most feared figures in prewar Iraq. Odai, in particular, was said to torture or kill Iraqi citizens seemingly on a whim.

Both sons held important positions in the Baathist regime before Saddam was ousted from power earlier this year.

Before the war, Qusai served as the head of the all-powerful Special Security Organization, an extensive network of intelligence, security and paramilitary wings that once permeated all levels of Iraqi society.

Odai had been considered his father's likely heir until a 1996 assassination attempt left him barely able to walk. His list of alleged crimes included rape, torture, intimidation and murder.

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