Recording of 'Dead' Saddam Deputy Airs on Iraqi TV

TV channel of Baath party releases an audio recording purportedly of Saddam Hussein’s deputy some officials said had been killed.

Ben Ariel, Canada ,

Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri as American Army's 'King of Clubs'
Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri as American Army's 'King of Clubs'

The TV channel of Iraq's former ruling Baath party on Friday released an audio recording purportedly of Saddam Hussein’s deputy some officials said had been killed last month, AFP reported.

Several officials and leaders of Shiite militia groups had claimed to have killed Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri more than a month ago near the city of Tikrit.

Pictures had emerged of the body of a red-haired man bearing some resemblance to Saddam's feared deputy, who is the most senior former regime member believed to still be at large.

The authorities however have since been unable to positively identify the body as Duri's, arguing that they lacked DNA samples for comparison.

Friday's audio recording was released by the Baath party's Al-Tagheer channel.

Duri clearly refers in the recording to events that have happened since rumors of his alleged death surfaced on April 17, notably the deployment of Shiite paramilitary groups in the Nukhayb region earlier this month.

"Nukhayb represents a strategic position for Iran inside Iraq, and one of the aims of occupying Nukhayb is to open a front against Saudi Arabia, and connect with the fronts in Syria and Lebanon after the northern passages were closed," he says in the recording.

"I affirm in this gathering that what's happening today in our country is a direct and a comprehensive Persian occupation, under the obnoxious cover of sectarianism," he adds.

Duri’s words and some aspects of the recording suggest that the recording was made at a meeting, possibly of former Baath officials.

Nicknamed "The Iceman" for his humble origins selling blocks of ice, he was the King of Clubs in the United States Army's deck of cards of most-wanted Iraqis.

The Army of the Men of the Naqshbandiyah Order -- known by its Arabic initials JRTN and believed to be close to Duri -- took part in a sweeping offensive that overran large areas north and west of Baghdad last June.

But little has been heard from JRTN and other groups since, with the Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist group, which led the drive, dominating the conquered territory and establishing a self-proclaimed "caliphate".

Duri's home town of Dawr was retaken in March as part of an operation that eventually saw pro-government forces recapture Tikrit, Saddam's hometown.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)