(NEW YORK) — A frail-looking man with a striking resemblance to former Iraqi Vice President Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri has turned up in a video posted on YouTube — the most recent evidence to date that he possibly remains the highest-ranking member of the late Saddam Hussein’s Baathist regime to elude capture over the past nine years.
Al-Douri helped Saddam rise to power in a 1968 military coup and remained a valued member of the dictator’s inner circle until the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003 displaced Saddam and sent the rest of his minions scattering.
Named the “King of Clubs” from a playing deck given to American soldiers to help them find Saddam and the Baathist fugitives, al-Douri has long been suspected of helping to finance and organize Sunni insurgents determined to take back the country from the Shiite-dominated government.
In the hour-long video, a man purported to be al-Douri dressed in military garb proclaims, “Our Baath (party), on its 65th anniversary, is in a major historic war. I call on this…occasion for all the progressive resistance forces and all the national Islamic resistance forces to work for the liberation.”
The speaker goes on to criticize Baghdad’s alliance with a former sworn enemy, saying, “The political process today is…for the benefit of Iran, which is carrying the most dangerous project for the Persians, with the intention of taking over Iraq and then destroying the nation.”
As evidence that the video was produced recently, al-Douri, or someone who looks just like him, supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown on anti-government forces, criticizing Arab states for “calling for armies to invade Syria and erase its people, as happened in Iraq and Libya.”
Responding to the video, an official with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki issued a statement, saying, “Al-Douri wants to spread terrorism and sectarian violence under the pretext of resistance. This will not affect the work of the government or the political process.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN