Saddam deputy praises jihadist `heroes` in unverified message
Baghdad: The wanted deputy of executed dictator Saddam Hussein praised the Islamic State jihadists who took over large swathes of the country last month as heroes in an unauthenticated audio message.
The recording features a 15-minute speech in a raspy, quavering voice purported to be that of 72-year-old Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, who was Iraq`s vice-president when US-led coalition forces invaded in 2003.
The voice in the recording, which AFP could not immediately confirm to be that of Duri, praised "some groups of (insurgents) Ansar al-Sunna and, in addition to these, the heroes and knights of Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State."
The Islamic State (IS) has been fighting in Syria and Iraq and on June 29 proclaimed a "caliphate" straddling both countries and headed by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who now calls himself Caliph Ibrahim.
Its fighters spearheaded a devastating military offensive by a coalition of Sunni militant groups that swept through large swathes of northern and western Iraq.
The onslaught was contained barely 50 miles from the capital Baghdad, exacerbating sectarian tensions nationwide and pushing Iraq to the brink of disintegration.
"We give them a special salute with pride, appreciation and love," said the man in the recording, introduced by another voice as the great commander of the Baath party.
"A dear salute to their leaders, which issued a general amnesty on every one who betrayed himself, betrayed God, betrayed his country but then atoned."
He then went on to list several, sometimes obscure, Sunni militant groups believed to have rallied behind the Islamic State for last month`s offensive.
Izzat al-Duri is believed to be the leader of Jaysh Rijal al-Tariq al-Naqshbandi (JRTN), or Naqshbandiya order, a group of Sufi inspiration long seen as a rival to jihadist groups such as IS.
After the December 2003 capture of Saddam Hussein, the wiry general nicknamed "Red Moustache" by some became the most senior figure, the King of Clubs, in the US army`s infamous deck of cards of wanted Iraqis.
He was best known to Iraqis as "The Iceman" for his humble origins selling blocks of ice on the streets of Mosul, Iraq`s second city and now a key jihadist hub.
Duri rose to become the number two official in the Revolution Command Council in Saddam`s regime and was seen as one of the few men in the country who could stand up to the former dictator.
He was suffering from leukemia at the time of the invasion and thought by many to have died.
More from India
More from World
More from Sports
More from Entertaiment
- 11-year old Odisha boy to get football training at Bayern Munich in Germany
- China warns India against deploying BrahMos cruise missile in Arunachal Pradesh
- One killed in TV channel office attack in Karachi
- Gujarat: Journalist working for local daily found dead in his Junagadh office
- Watch: How floods throw normal life out of gear across country
- Silly to have advertised my Chevalier award: Kamal Haasan
- Chikungunya outbreak in Delhi: Symptoms, tips to stay safe!
- Hal Shashti Vrat 2016: What is the significance of Balaram Jayanti!
- Good news for Vaishno Devi pilgrims! Shrine Board to announce new route soon - Know details
- Samsung's 1st Tizen powered 4G smartphone Z2 launched at Rs 4,590; comes with free Jio SIM