Baghdad, Iraq (APE) – Amidst wild speculation over the fate of former dictator Saddam Hussein, US forces in Iraq reluctantly admitted today that they are now not certain over whether Hussein remains in their custody or not. Rumors erupted yesterday in regards to the possible execution by hanging of Hussein as early as this weekend, with reports that he had been turned over to Iraqi government authorities, and that his personal effects had been given to his lawyer, Khalil al-Dulaimi. Both Iraqi and American authorities denied this series of events today, and when US forces early this morning checked on the status of their most famous prisoner, doubts then arose as to his authenticity.

In a convoluted plot reminiscent of a Hollywood blockbuster, it now appears that Hussein’s lawyer, al-Dulaimi, may have switched places with his client who was spirited away and disappeared into the streets of Baghdad early this morning. A spokesperson for the US occupation forces refused further comment, stating only that the man that they now had in custody was refusing to talk or cooperate. Concerns had been expressed over the number of body doubles of Hussein that apparently remained at large since the start of the war in 2003, and this morning pundits worst fears appeared to be realized.

A spokesperson for the White House refused to comment on the story, other than to say that the president remained apprised of the situation, and continues to work with Cabinet members in Crawford, Texas on putting the final touches on his new Iraq strategy. A spokesperson stated that the president’s anticipated announcement of the new plan may be delayed pending resolution of the execution of Saddam. White House legal counsel was reportedly looking into the possibility of proceeding with the execution of the individual currently in custody in Iraq.

In a related story some of the former dictator’s personal effects reportedly appeared today up for bid on eBay. Bids began trickling in for Saddam’s personal copy of the Koran, as well as a prayer rug, a poster of Lara and Jenna Bush, and well-worn pair of BVDs. A bid of $40,000 was the highest placed for the underwear, with the poster of the Bush twins at $25,000.