Posted: 12/25/2003 12:04:17 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/25/2003 12:06:00 PM EDT by tequilabob]
amyone else hear of this?
A democraptic friend from california sent me this
Published on Sunday, December 21, 2003 by the Sunday Herald (Scotland)
Revealed: Who Really Found Saddam?
by David Pratt
It was exactly one week ago at 3:15pm Baghdad time, when a beaming Paul Bremer
made that now-famous announcement: "Ladies and gentlemen, we got him!"
Saddam Hussein: High Value Target Number One. The Glorious Leader. The Lion of
Babylon had been snared. Iraq's most wanted - the ace of spades - had become
little more than an ace in the hole.
In Baghdad's streets, Kalashnikov bullets rained down in celebration. In the
billets of US soldiers, there were high fives, toasts and cigars. In the
Jordanian capital Amman, an elderly woman overcome by grief broke down in tears
and died. Inside a snow-blanketed White House, George W Bush prepared to
address the nation.
"There's an end to everything," said a somber Safa Saber al'Douri, a former
Iraqi air force pilot, now a grocer in al-Dwar, the town where only hours
earlier one of the greatest manhunts in history had ended under a polystyrene
hatch in a six foot deep "spider hole."
But just how did that endgame come about? Indeed, who exactly were the key
players in what until then had been a frustrating and sometimes embarrassing
hunt for a former dictator with a $25 million (£14m) bounty on his head?
For 249 days there was no shortage of US expertise devoted to the hunt. But the
Pentagon has always remained tight-lipped about those individuals and groups
involved, such as Task Force 20, said to be America's most elite covert unit,
or another super-secret team known as Greyfox, which specializes in radio and
Saddam, of course, was never likely to use the phone, and the best chance of
locating him would always be as a result of informers or home-grown Iraqi
intelligence. On this and their collaboration with anti-Saddam groups the
Americans have also remained reticent.
Enter one Qusrat Rasul Ali, otherwise known as the lion of Kurdistan. A leader
of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), Rasul Ali was once tortured by
Saddam's henchmen, but today is chief of a special forces unit dedicated to
hunting down former Ba'athist regime leaders.
Rasul Ali's unit had an impressive track record. It was they who last August,
working alone, arrested Iraqi vice-president Taha Yassin Ramadan in Mosul,
northern Iraq. Barely a month earlier in the al-Falah district of the same
town, the PUK is believed to have played a crucial role in the pinpointing and
storming of a villa that culminated in the deaths of Saddam's sons Uday and
In that mixed district of Mosul where Arabs, Kurds and Turkemen live side by
side, PUK informers went running to their leader Jalal Talabani's nearest
military headquarters to bring him news on the exact location of the villa
where both Uday and Qusay had taken shelter.
Armed with the information, Talabani made a beeline for US administration
offices in Baghdad, where deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz was based for
a week's stay in Iraq at the time.
The Kurdish leader and US military chiefs conferred and decided that PUK
intelligence would go ahead and secretly surround the Zeidan villa and install
sensors and eavesdropping devices. The Kurdish agents were instructed to
prepare the site for the US special forces operation to storm the building on
American officials later said they expected that the $30m bounty promised by
their government for the capture or death of the Hussein sons would be paid.
Given their direct involvement in providing the exact location and intelligence
necessary, no doubt Talabani's PUK operatives could lay claim to the sum, but
no confirmation of any delivery or receipt of the cash has ever been made.
The PUK and Rasul Ali's special "Ba'athist hunters" have, it seems, been doing
what the Americans have consistently failed to do. In an interview with the
PUK's al-Hurriyah radio station last Wednesday, Adil Murad, a member of the
PUK's political bureau, confirmed that the Kurdish unit had been pursuing
fugitive Ba'athists for the past months in Mosul, Samarra, Tikrit and areas to
the south including al-Dwar where Saddam was eventually cornered. Murad even
says that the day before Saddam's capture he was tipped off by PUK General
Thamir al'Sultan, that Saddam would be arrested within the next 72 hours.
Clearly the Kurdish net was closing on Saddam, and PUK head Jalal Talabani and
Rasul Ali were once again in the running for US bounty - should any be going.
It was at about 10:50am Baghdad time on last Saturday when US intelligence says
it got the tip it was looking for. But it was not until 8pm, with the launch of
Operation Red Dawn, that they finally began to close in on the prize.
The US media reported that the tip-off came from an Iraqi man who was arrested
during a raid in Tikrit, and even speculated that he could get part of the
bounty. "It was intelligence, actionable intelligence," claimed Lt General
Ricardo Sanchez, commander of coalition ground forces in Iraq. "It was great
But the widely held view that Kurdish intelligence was the key to the operation
was supported in a statement released last Sunday by the Iraqi Governing
Council. Ahmed Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress, said that Rasul
Ali and his PUK special forces unit had provided vital information and more.
Last Saturday, as the US operation picked up speed, the Fourth Infantry
Division moved into the area surrounding two farms codenamed Wolverine 1 and
Wolverine 2 near al-Dwar, the heart of the Saddam heartland - a military town
where practically every man is a military officer past or present. It is said
to have a special place in Saddam's sentiments because it was from here that he
swam across the Tigris River when he was a dissident fleeing arrest in the
Every year on August 28, the town marks Saddam's escape with a swimming contest
. In 1992, Saddam himself attended the race. It was won by a man called Qais
al-Nameq. It was al-Nameq's farmhouse - Wolverine 2 - that about 600 troops,
including engineers, artillery and special forces, surrounded, cutting off all
roads for about four or five miles around.
Next to a sheep pen was a ramshackle orange and white taxi, which US officials
say was probably used to ferry Saddam around while he was on the run, sometimes
moving every three or four hours.
Inside the premises was a walled compound with a mud hut and small lean-to.
There US soldiers found the camouflaged hole in which Saddam was hiding.
It was 3:15pm Washington time when Donald Rumsfeld called George W Bush at Camp
David. "Mr President, first reports are not always accurate," he began. "But we
think we may have him."
First reports - indeed the very first report of Saddam's capture - were also
coming out elsewhere. Jalal Talabani chose to leak the news and details of
Rasul Ali's role in the deployment to the Iranian media and to be interviewed
By early Sunday - way before Saddam's capture was being reported by the
mainstream Western press - the Kurdish media ran the following news wire:
"Saddam Hussein, the former President of the Iraqi regime, was captured by the
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. A special intelligence unit led by Qusrat Rasul
Ali, a high-ranking member of the PUK, found Saddam Hussein in the city of
Tikrit, his birthplace. Qusrat's team was accompanied by a group of US
soldiers. Further details of the capture will emerge during the day; but the
global Kurdish party is about to begin!"
By the time Western press agencies were running the same story, the emphasis
had changed, and the ousted Iraqi president had been "captured in a raid by US
forces backed by Kurdish fighters."
Rasul Ali himself, meanwhile, had already been on air at the Iranian satellite
station al-Alam insisting that his "PUK fighters sealed the area off before the
arrival of the US forces".
By late Sunday as the story went global, the Kurdish role was reduced to a
supportive one in what was described by the Pentagon and US military officials
as a "joint operation". The Americans now somewhat reluctantly were admitting
that PUK fighters were on the ground alongside them , while PUK sources were
making more considered statements and playing down their precise role.
So just who did get to Saddam first, the Kurds or the Americans? And if indeed
it was a joint operation would it have been possible at all without the
intelligence and on-the-ground participation of Rasul Ali and his special
If the PUK themselves pulled off Saddam's capture, there would be much to gain
from taking the $25m bounty and any political guarantees the Americans might
reward them with to keep schtum. What's more, Jalal Talabani's links to Tehran
have always worried Washington, and having his party grab the grand prize from
beneath their noses would be awkward to say the least.
"It's mutually worth it to us and the Americans. We need assurances for the
future and they need the kudos of getting Saddam," admitted a Kurdish source on
condition of anonymity. It would be all to easy to dismiss the questions
surrounding the PUK role as conspiracy theory. After all, almost every major
event that affects the Arab world prompts tales that are quickly woven into
intricate shapes and patterns, to demonstrate innocence, seek credit or
apportion blame. Saddam's capture is no exception.
Of the numerous and more exotic theories surrounding events leading to Saddam's
arrest, one originates on a website many believe edited by former Israeli
intelligence agents, but which often turns up inside information about the
Middle East that proves to be accurate.
According to Debka.com, there is a possibility that Saddam was held for up to
three weeks in al-Dwar by a Kurdish splinter group while they negotiated a
handover to the Americans in return for the $25m reward. This, the writers say
would explain his disheveled and disorientated appearance.
But perhaps the mother of all conspiracy theories, is the one about the
pictures distributed by the Americans showing the hideout with a palm tree
behind the soldier who uncovered the hole where Saddam was hiding. The palm
carried a cluster of pre-ripened yellow dates, which might suggest that Saddam
was arrested at least three months earlier, because dates ripen in the summer
when they turn into their black or brown color.
Those who buy into such an explanation conclude that Saddam's capture was
stage-managed and his place of arrest probably elsewhere. All fanciful stuff.
But as is so often the case, the real chain of events is likely to be far more
In the end serious questions remain about the Kurdish role and whether at last
Sunday's Baghdad press conference, Paul Bremer was telling the whole truth . Or
is it a case of "ladies and gentlemen we got him," - with a little more help
from our Kurdish friends than might be politically expedient to admit?
©2003 newsquest (sunday herald) limited.
It dont matter to me who "GOT" him.
Just as long as he got "GOT"
yah, the kurds wouldnt have killed him...
Kurds operating in the Sunni Triangle? Maybe.
We definitely got some help on this one(intel) none of which came from the DEMOCRATS.[8D]