U.S. experts are reviewing a tape recording allegedly featuring the voice of deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, a U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Wednesday.
An Australian newspaper reported it had received the 14-minute tape, in which a voice exhorts the Iraqi people to "face these invaders and kick them out from Iraq," from two men in Baghdad on Monday who said they were trying to get it to Al-Jazeera or Al-Arabiya, two Arab satellite television channels.
In the message obtained by the Sydney Morning Herald, the speaker claiming to be Saddam says he is speaking from "Great Iraq." He instructs his listeners, "Your main task is to kick the enemy out from our country."
"It sounds as if we have to go back to the secret style of struggle that we began our life with," he said.
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The Bush administration originally said the ship would be too far out to sea for a helicopter approach, but by the time Mr. Bush arrived it was only 30 miles offshore, reports The Washington Post. Now spokesman Ari Fleischer says Mr. Bush wanted to take the jet there to "see an aircraft landing the same way that the pilots saw an aircraft landing."
In the alleged message from Saddam, the speaker linked resistance to the United States with the Palestinian struggle against Israel. The voice claimed a growing resentment of the American presence.
"Your enemy came to Iraq and they thought that the Iraqi people would receive them with flowers but they were surprised," the message continued. "Now, some people who supported the Americans and the occupiers are now changing their minds, step by step."
"Show your stance as much as you can by writing on walls, or making positive demonstrations or not selling them anything or buying anything from them, or by shooting them with your rifles and trying to destroy their cannons and tanks," the tape says.
"Work hard," the voice commanded. "Victory is coming."
By way of establishing that the recording was made recently, the voice on the tape noted some Iraqis had celebrated Saddam's 66th birthday on April 28 even though he was not in power. The speaker referred to Saddam in the third person, a practice common in Arabic.
Saddam's fate has been a mystery since the war started, and remains cloudy after two attempts by the United States to kill him during the war. Last week, an Arabic newspaper in London published what it said was a letter from Saddam calling on Iraqis to resist.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Iraqi doctors in white lab coats took to the streets of Baghdad, insisting they will not accept the U.S.-appointed head the Health Ministry because of his ties to Saddam's overthrown regime.
On Saturday, the U.S. civil administration named Ali Shnan al-Janabi, No. 3 at the Health Ministry under Saddam, to head the ministry. Before the war, al-Janabi "was a faithful servant of Saddam," said Imad Saud, a resident in cardiothoracic surgery. "How can we trust him?"
Elsewhere, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday rejected U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz's call that Turkey concede it made a mistake by not opening its doors to the U.S. military during the Iraq war.
"Turkey, from the very beginning, never made any mistakes, and has taken all the necessary steps in all sincerity," Erdogan told reporters.
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar was due at the White House, as the president continues to fete world leaders who bucked public opinion to back the U.S.-led war.