Al-Sahaf, who handed himself over to the Americans, was shown without his familiar military fatigues and beret, standing in a room chatting with a reporter of a Arabic television station. His hair is now completely grey and close cropped.

"Via some friends, I went to the Americans...and there was an interrogation about a number of issues concerning my work. After the interrogation, I was released," a tired-looking and thin Sahaf said in the interview, first aired by Abu Dhabi TV. 

"A difficult situation has passed by, not for one person but for everyone," he said in measured tones in course of the interview.

TV Star

Shortly after Abu Dhabi TV broadcast its interview with al-Sahaf, another interivew with him was aired by al-Arabiya, the Dubai-based station. 

The television stations said the interveiws were recorded in Baghdad.

The former minister, a Shia Muslim, was born in Hilla, South of Baghdad, in 1940. He studied journalism and started his career with the government radio. In 1963 he joined the Ba’ath party and moved up higher in the party culminating in his appointment as Foreign Minister from 1992 to 2001.

But it was his statements of imminent US defeat as American forces entered Baghdad that brought him international fame and an unflattering nickname.

Throughout the conflict he kept up his optimism of Iraqi military prowess against what he used to call “villains… mercenaries… infidels… flops… louts and crooks”.

Al-Sahaf was not included in the US list of 55 most-wanted former Iraqi Ba’ath Party officials, though he kept bombarding the US and British officials with all kinds of insults during the war.