updated 8/21/2005 11:06:31 AM ET 2005-08-21T15:06:31

Facing trial soon on charges he massacred fellow Muslims, Saddam Hussein purportedly vowed in a letter published Sunday to sacrifice himself for the cause of Palestine and Iraq, and he urged Arabs to follow his path.

The letter, published in two Jordanian newspapers, allegedly was delivered through the International Committee of the Red Cross to an old friend now living in Jordan. Those who made the letter public said the man refused to be identified. It was believed to have been the first letter since Saddam was captured in December 2003 that he sent to someone other than a family member.

“My soul and my existence is to be sacrificed for our precious Palestine and our beloved, patient and suffering Iraq,” the letter said.

Tayseer Homsi, Secretary General of the Jordanian Arab Baath Socialist Party, said the missive was delivered through the ICRC to an “independent Jordanian political figure who wished to remain anonymous.”

The ICRC said it was checking the authenticity of the letter, according to Iraq delegation spokeswoman Rana Sidani, who is based in Amman. Saddam and other such political detainees to whom the ICRC has access are only allowed to write letters to family members.

Saddam’s fate
Saddam was expected to stand trial in Iraq this fall on charges that could bring the death penalty. His letter appeared to include his musings on that possible fate.

“Life is meaningless without the considerations of faith, love and inherited history in our nation,” the letter said.

“It is not much for a man to support his nation with his soul and all he commands because it deserves it since it has given us life in the name of God and allowed us to inherit the best,” he wrote in what appeared to be a clear call to Arabs to follow his footsteps.

“My brother, love your people, love Palestine, love your nation, long live Palestine.”

The Jordanian Baath party, which publicized the letter and espouses ideology similar to Saddam’s now-defunct Baath party, has no links to Iraq. Homsi, the party secretary general, said the letter’s recipient gave his party a copy of the letter two days ago.

“The Jordanian man wished to remain anonymous. He’s an old friend of Saddam, he’s not a member of our party nor is he a party functionary,” Homsi told the Associated Press.

He declined to identify the man.

Ad-Dustour and al Arab Al Yawm, Jordan’s second- and third-largest daily newspapers, said the letter was given to them by Homsi’s party at a press conference Saturday.

Series of trials
The letter became public as Iraq geared up for a series of trials, the first beginning this fall, concerning Saddam’s alleged role in the 1982 massacre of an estimated 150 Shiites in Dujail, north of Baghdad, in retaliation for an assassination attempt on the former leader. Saddam is a Sunni, and his minority sect ruled over majority Shiites, Kurds and other ethnic groups until he was ousted in April 2003 after the U.S.-led invasion.

Others indicted in the Dujail massacre are Barazan Ibrahim, intelligence chief at the time and Saddam’s half brother; former Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan; and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, at the time a Baath party official in Dujail.

The assassination attempt was organized by the Dawa Party, whose members include Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari.

In addressing his correspondent, Saddam said: “My brother, love your people, love Palestine, love your nation, long live Palestine.”

Also Sunday, Iraq criticized Jordan for allegedly allowing Saddam’s family to fund an Iraqi network seeking to destabilize the country. The Iraqi rebuke appeared designed to blunt bad publicity for Iraq after Jordanian police detained an undetermined number of Iraqis and other foreign Arab suspects in the Friday rocket attack that barely missed a U.S. warship in Jordan’s Red Sea resort of Aqaba.

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