New footage of Saddam Hussein surfaced Friday (April 18), furthering suspicion that the Iraqi leader is still alive.
Abu Dhabi TV aired a videotape that shows a man purported to be Hussein wearing a military uniform and beret, and waving to a crowd. His son, Qusay, looks to be with him, as many people cheered, "With our bloods and souls we redeem you, Oh Saddam."
An Abu Dhabi correspondent said that the person who submitted the tape to the Arab television network informed them that the tape was shot in Baghdad on April 9, the same day U.S. forces infiltrated Iraq's capital city and helped citizens topple statues of the sapped Iraqi president. U.S. officials are trying to authenticate the date of origin.
An audiotape broadcast later that day, also believed to be made by Hussein on April 9, tells the Iraqi people, "We are confident that victory at the end will be ours."
Other than the word of the person who supplied them, there is nothing to time-stamp either tape. After other tapes surfaced in the past, U.S. officials have repeatedly asked Hussein to hold up a newspaper or reference a specific event to offer some proof that they were current. So far, he's neglected to do so.
Now it's up to the National Security Agency to determine when the tapes were made and whether they actually feature Hussein and not one of the many body doubles it is believed he has used in the past.
U.S. intelligence concluded that a previously aired tape of Hussein in Baghdad that was purportedly made April 4 was actually shot in early March, when he still had control of Iraq's capital.
Meanwhile in the capital, thousands of Iraqis chanted anti-American sentiments and urged the U.S. to withdraw from Iraq at a unity rally for Sunni and Shiite Muslims, according to CNN. Demonstrators carried banners that read, "Iraq ruled by Iraqis," "No Occupation" and "Unity."
The two groups have long been at odds. The Sunni Muslims, the minority comprising about a third of Iraq's population, have governed the Shiite majority, who make up two thirds of the population, for decades.
Other recent developments:
- Another senior official of the Baath Party was captured by coalition forces. Samir Abd al-Aziz al-Najim, the "four of clubs" in the playing cards given to U.S. troops, was nabbed Thursday night. His arrest follows that of Saddam Hussein's half brother and presidential adviser Barzan Ibrahim Hasan, who was pinched the day before.
- According to Fox News, several others of "Iraq's most wanted" are hiding out in small towns in northwestern Iraq, near Mosul, and have attempted to enter into Syria.
- U.S. troops were shown 1,600 shallow graves on the outskirts of a military base southwest of Kirkuk by Kurds, according to Central Command. Local residents told CNN that the graves were at least 12 years old, and coalition forces are working with Iraqi citizens to determine who might be buried there.
- With some of its numbers already in Iraq, the U.S. is sending the 1,000-member "Iraq Survey Group" to the country to look for weapons of mass destruction, according to the Pentagon.
- United Nations chief weapons inspector Hans Blix has expressed that he wants his team to return to Iraq to aid in the search for weapons of mass destruction. The U.N. team left Iraq before the war started, but Blix said that his team would add credibility to any findings, according to CNN.
- California-based engineering, construction and development company Bechtel Corp. was given the multi-million dollar contract to rebuild Iraq. The reconstruction process requires $34.6 million to start, and could total more than $680 million over the next 18 months. The funding must be approved by Congress. The company's chairman and CEO, Riley P. Bechtel, was appointed to President George W. Bush's advisory committee on international trade in February.
- Three members of the White House committee on protecting antiquities resigned Monday in response to the U.S.'s failure to stop the looting of Iraq's national museum.
- International law enforcement agency Interpol formed a task force to search and recover the art and antiquities taken from Iraqi museums. The U.S will also send FBI agents to aid in the criminal investigation of the suspected looters.
— Joe D'Angelo
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