Skip to comments.Former Iraq Information Minister Tells Arab TV He Leaves Baghdad With 'mixed Feelings'
Posted on 07/11/2003 4:43:48 PM PDT by Sub-Driver
Former Iraq Information Minister Tells Arab TV He Leaves Baghdad With 'mixed Feelings' By Sarah El Deeb Associated Press Writer Published: Jul 11, 2003
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - Iraq's former information minister left Baghdad with "sadness and hope" for a return, he said in an interview aired Friday by an Arab television station chronicling the end of Saddam Hussein's regime through his ex-spokesman. Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf arrived in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, late Thursday to participate in a series of interviews with the Abu Dhabi satellite station.
On Friday, the channel aired a brief interview with al-Sahhaf, who achieved widespread notoriety during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq for colorful anti-American insults and transparently false claims of stunning Iraqi military victories over coalition forces.
"This departure is accompanied with mixed feelings. It has sadness and hope," al-Sahhaf told the station as his plane left Baghdad. "My only solace is to be optimistic and remain faithful, and to side completely with the truth to stay alive and continue working."
Al-Sahhaf's outlandish claims and insults during the war bemused millions of people around the world and made the ex-Iraqi official a notorious figure in the West, where some created Web sites devoted to him and sold T-shirts and other memorabilia with his image.
He disappeared the day Baghdad fell to coalition forces April 9 and reportedly hid in a relative's home there, fearing revenge from angry Iraqis.
Last month, he surfaced, his dark hair now white, in television interviews and said he had turned himself over to coalition forces but was set free. He is not on the list of 55 Iraqi wanted officials.
A Defense Department spokesman said then that the U.S. Central Command had no information on his being in American custody.
Al-Sahhaf, who is in his early 60s, said he wants to find something "useful" to do for his family and fellow Iraqis. He said his family - including a wife, daughter, son and five other relatives - were happy to leave Iraq, though the ex-minister says he hopes to return someday.
"Every time I leave (Baghdad), I think that maybe I won't be back on that road (to Iraq) again," al-Sahhaf said. "But I hope and pray to God that I can return."
Al-Sahhaf joined the Baath party in 1963 and served as Iraq's ambassador to Italy, Sweden and the United Nations. He later headed the Iraqi Broadcasting Co. before being appointed foreign minister in 1991, a post he held for 10 years. He became information minister in 2001.
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