By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
A video posted online Saturday purports to show Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, the highest ranking member of Saddam Hussein’s ousted regime still at large, lashing out against Iraq’s Shiite-led government.
It was not possible to verify the authenticity of the video or determine when it was made.
The man in the video, posted on a website linked to Saddam’s now-outlawed Baath party, was introduced as al-Douri and bore a striking physical resemblance to the former Saddam deputy. He noted that nine years had passed since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, suggesting the video was made recently.
Wearing an olive military uniform and eyeglasses, he criticized Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government, led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and what he said was meddling by neighboring Shiite powerhouse Iran.
“Everyone can hear the sounds of danger echoing daily and threatening this country,” he said during the hour-long address, adding that al-Maliki’s Dawa Party “has announced Iraq as the Shiite capital, and called on all Arab leaders to surrender to this reality.”
Al-Douri has been reported dead or captured more than once in the past. He has not been seen in public since the U.S.-led invasion, though audio tapes purporting to be from him have been released. His whereabouts are not known.
Al-Douri is believed to have played a key role in financing Sunni insurgents seeking to undermine Iraq’s post-Saddam government. He was the “king of clubs” in the deck of playing cards issued by the U.S. to help troops identify the most-wanted members of Saddam’s regime.
Ali al-Moussawi, a media adviser for al-Maliki, said the tape is meant to “boost the morale of the terrorists.”
“Al-Douri wants to spread terrorism and sectarian violence under the pretext of resistance,” he said. “This will not affect the work of the government or the political process.”
Al-Moussawi said al-Douri is still a wanted man, but that he doubts that al-Douri is still in Iraq because his need for extensive medical care in a well-equipped clinic would make it impossible to hide.
Also Saturday, a bomb hidden in a plastic bag blew up on a minibus, killing two passengers and wounding nine in Baghdad’s commercial heart of Karrada, according to police and hospital officials. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.
Deadly attacks have declined in Iraq in recent weeks, but dozens are still killed every month. March saw the lowest monthly toll for violent deaths since the 2003 U.S.-invasion.