Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf, Information Minister of Iraq, Claims No US Troops Are In Baghdad
Al-Sahhaf is known for his daily press briefings in Baghdad during the 2003 Iraq War.
His colorful appearances caused him to be nicknamed Baghdad Bob (in the style of previous propagandists with alliterative aliases such as "Hanoi Hannah" and "Seoul City Sue" as well as other propagandists without alliterative nicknames like "Tokyo Rose") by commentators in the United States and Comical Ali (an allusion to Chemical Ali, the nickname of former Iraqi Defence Minister Ali Hassan al-Majid) by commentators in the United Kingdom; commentators in Italy similarly nicknamed him Alì il Comico.
On April 7, 2003, al-Sahhaf claimed that there were no American troops in Baghdad, and that the Americans were committing suicide by the hundreds at the city's gates. At that time, American tanks were patrolling the streets only a few hundred meters from the location where the press conference was held. His last public appearance as Information Minister was on April 8, 2003, when he said that the Americans "are going to surrender or be burned in their tanks. They will surrender, it is they who will surrender".
He gained something of a cult following in the west, appearing on T-shirts, cartoons, and from internet phenomena came satirical websites. One such site featured sound bites of the minister, as well as photoshopped pictures of him on the Star Wars Death Star, at The Battle of Waterloo and at the D-Day landings, in all cases maintaining that "everything is just fine."
The utterances by al-Sahhaf described the fictional world of Saddam Hussein and his inner circle and were well received in parts of the Arab world most fiercely opposed to the war. Thus the quick fall of Baghdad was to some a total surprise; Syrian television did not broadcast images of the events. Many in Arab countries who were interviewed later were in disbelief and were forced to conclude that al-Sahhaf and their own media had been lying all along, comparable to a similar watershed event that came out of the Arab-Israeli wars several decades earlier. Another theory is that al-Sahhaf was part of a deliberate operation of deception against coalition forces and the people of Iraq, to provide senior Iraqi officers with time to hide and escape. Al-Sahhaf's denials may have also contributed to the deaths of some Iraqi civilians during the Battle of Baghdad. The civilians, apparently believing official assurances that American forces were nowhere near the city, were killed after driving directly into intense firefights between American armored units and Iraqi forces.
"I triple guarantee you, there are no American soldiers in Baghdad."”— Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf