The tape showed a group of masked men holding automatic rifles in a room with walls covered by photographs of Saddam Hussein and his sons.

   

"We pledge to you Iraqi people that we will continue the jihad (holy struggle) against the infidels. The killing of Uday and Qusay will be avenged," said a masked man claiming to be from Saddam Fedayeen on the tape carried by the Dubai-based Al Arabiya.

 

Collaborators threatened

   

"The killing of Uday and Qusay will not decrease the attacks against the Americans but rather increase them," the masked speaker said.  The group also threatened to kill Iraqis who "collaborate" with the occupation US forces.

 

In Baghdad, members of Iraq's Governing Council were given access on Thursday to see the bodies of Saddam Hussein's two dead sons, Uday and Qusay, a senior US  official said.

  

The official said the US-led forces wanted to discuss with the council members the issue of disclosure of the bodies.

 

Earlier in Washington, United States Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld  said photographs of the two deceased sons of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein will be released to the public "soon."

 

The photos are "undoubtedly horrible, but we have to show them"

-- Unnamed US official

Asked when the pictures might be released, Rumsfeld answered that a decision was yet to be taken on the timing.

 

A US State Department official who declined to be named said the photos were "undoubtedly horrible, but we have to show them" to convince all Iraqis that the brothers are dead.

 

The decision to “exhibit” the bodies to a select group and publicise their photos appear to have been taken following intense pressure from Iraqis demanding that the US administration provide incontrovertible evidence of the killing of Saddam Hussein’s sons Uday and Qusay.

 

Pressure

 

The pressure has come in mainly from Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit in northern Iraq.

 

The two brothers were killed by US occupation troops in a fierce armed encounter in Mosul on Tuesday.

 

The man whose tip-off led to the killing is under US protection, with a $ 30 million bounty under his belt, the US military said.

  

Colonel Joe Anderson said the informant was under protection but declined to confirm local suspicions that he was tribal chief Nawaf Mohammed al-Zaidan, owner of the Mosul mansion where Uday and Qusay Hussein made their last desperate stand.