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Saddam deputy praises jihadist 'heroes' in unverified message

Iraqi police man a checkpoint with a wanted sign for Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, in the northern city of Kirkuk on January 20, 2004The 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 released on Saturday. 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.

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