Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, his military decimated,
still has thousands of bodyguards and fighters ready to die for him, a new
The Center for Strategic and International Studies asserts that Saddam
has organized several units that would fight to their death in defense of
the president. The Washington-based center said such units include military
intelligence, internal security forces, bodyguard details and youth
"Iraq has extensive military intelligence and internal security forces,
and they are designed to force military units to be loyal to Saddam to the
last," the report, authored by senior fellow Anthony Cordesman, said. "Their
success may be marginal in many areas, but some of these forces have combat
elements, and many may feel their survival is tied to that of the regime."
The report, entitled "Saddam's Last Circle: The Core Forces Likely to
Protect Saddam in the Battle of Baghdad," listed some of the units that
would die for Saddam. Written on March 18, the eve of the war, Cordesman's
cites the Military Intelligence Service, a unit of up to 6,000 people based
in Baghdad and which reports directly to Saddam. The force focuses on
eliminating subversion within the military forces.
Another unit that has already seen significant action is Fedayeen
Saddam which is commanded by Lt.
Gen. Mezahem Saab Al Hassan Al Tikriti.
Other Iraqi units being prepared for suicide missions include the
Popular Army, which Iraq claimed had as many as seven milllion members, and
the Ashbal [Lions] of Saddam, a youth paramilitary group. The Ashbal
recruits youngsters ages 10 to 16.
Saddam also has a presidential secretariat that contains 100 staffers.
They are responsible for Saddam's personal security. The secretariat is
headed by Lt. Gen. Abi Hamid Mahmud, a cousin of Saddam and head of two
Sunni Iraqi tribes.
"Mahmud is regarded by some as the real number two figure in the Iraqi
leadership," the report said. "He controls all access to Saddam Ñ possibly
with the exception of Qusay and Uday Hussein Ñ and has the ability to
override government decisions."
Mahmud is also a member of the Special Security Committee, created in
1996 and which protects presidential office, ministers and Baath leaders.
The report said the committee, the deputy chairman of which is Qusay, is the
only organization responsible for providing bodyguards to Saddam and his
The report said about 40 bodyguards are responsible for Saddam's
immediate security and they mostly come from Saddam's tribe in Tikrit.
The report said the U.S. search for Saddam will be difficult. Cordesman
cites the huge security network as well as the constant movement by the
"Saddam is always under deep cover," the report said. "He moves
constantly, has a wide range of shelters and facilities, and often conceals
himself in buildings or facilities outside palace compounds."
The report said Iraq has obtained techniques for the building of
shelters from the former Yugoslavia. In addition, Saddam has built a network
of shelters and underground facilities, connected by tunnels.
The Special Security Service controlled by Qusay, is regarded as an
ultra-loyal force with up to 5,000 men who protect Saddam and ensure the
loyalty of other services. The organization has its headquarters on
Palestine Street in Baghdad.
The organization has two key agencies. One, termed the Special
Protection Apparatus, is composed of an elite group of bodyguards from
Saddam's Abu Nasir tribe. The other, the Special Location Group, protects
Saddam in all of his homes and his family. The Salih or Mobile Group
protects him while moving.
"[They] will probably die for Saddam," the report said.