Sunday, October 15, 2006

Saddam says victory at hand against U.S. occupation

Reuters - In an open letter, Saddam Hussein told Iraqis "victory was at hand" and urged insurgents to show magnanimity to opponents, saying he himself forgave Iraqis who aided the killers of his two sons.

In the letter dictated to his chief lawyer Khalil Dulaimi during a four-hour meeting on Saturday in his prison, the former Iraqi leader also said Iraqis should put aside differences and set only one goal - to drive U.S. troops out of Iraq.

"Victory is at hand but don't forget that your near-term goal is confined to liberating your country from the forces of occupation," Saddam said in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters on Sunday.

Dulaimi said the letter was written days before the court trying Saddam over the killing of 148 Shi'ite men from the town of Dujail in the 1980s is due to meet on Monday to review witness testimony.

Saddam urged his Sunni minority community, the backbone of the insurgency, to even forgive Iraqi informants who helped U.S. troops track down and kill his two sons, Uday and Qusay, in a gunbattle at a house in Mosul in 2003.

"When you achieve victory and it is close.. remember you are God's soldiers which means you should show genuine forgiveness and put aside revenge over the spilt blood of the sons of Saddam Hussein," Saddam wrote.

"I call on you to apply justice in your Jihad (holy war) and not be drawn to recklessness and urge you to be forgiving rather than tough with those who have lost the path," he added.

The former leader said he resorted to an open letter for the first time since his trial began in October 2005 on charges of crimes against humanity to give his message without censorship.