Saddam was out of the loop as aides paid insurgents

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

BAGHDAD U.S. officials say the insurgency in Iraq remains flush with tens of millions of dollars in funds handled by senior Saddam aides.

They said Saddam was not found to have directed recent attacks against U.S. and coalition forces in the Sunni Triangle.

Saddam might have been out of contact with Sunni insurgency leaders for at least the last three months, a senior U.S. official said. The official, who did not want to be identified, said Saddam spent all of his time either hiding or running away from U.S. special operations forces.

[On Monday, two car bombs exploded in the Baghdad area, killing eight Iraqi police officers and injuring another 17. A third car bomb prepared for attack against an Iraqi police station was found and defused, Middle East Newsline reported.]

"We do not expect at this point in time that we will have a complete elimination of those attacks," Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, head of the coalition forces in Iraq, said. "Do I expect an increase in retaliation? I don't know, but we're prepared."

Officials expect Al Qaida operatives and the thousands of foreign recruits to play a larger role in the anti-coalition campaign in Iraq. Al Qaida-aligned cells were said to have been responsible for most of the large-scale suicide car bombings in Baghdad in October and November.

On Sunday, the Coalition Provision Authority announced that Saddam was captured in the cellar of a farm house near Al Dawar, about 15 kilometers south of Tikrit. Saddam did not resist capture during a U.S. military raid on Saturday evening, capping an eight-month U.S. effort.

"He was a tired man and a man resigned to his fate," Lt. Gen. Richard Sanchez, head of U.S. coalition forces in Iraq, said.

Officials said the Sunni insurgency has established a regional command in the area north and west of Baghdad. But they said several of Saddam's aides were believed to have been relaying millions of dollars in funds for the procurement of weapons and explosives and the recruitment of insurgents.

Saddam was found to have possessed $750,000 in $100 bills as well as a pistol in his underground lair, officials said. They said Saddam kept other funds in other hideouts in the Tikrit area. The officials said Saddam was not providing his U.S. interrogators with adequate information on a range of questions, including the leaders of the Sunni insurgency and Iraqi weapons of mass destruction programs.

On Saturday, special operations forces of the U.S. 4th Infantry Division captured Saddam, capping an effort, termed Operation Red Dawn, that included several months of intelligence as well as electronics and aerial reconnaissance, officials said. They said the military received information on Saturday morning that Saddam was hiding in either of two locations at Adwar, a town near Tikrit.

Maj. Gen Ray Odierno, commander of the 4th Infantry Division, said Saddam had been living in "two small rooms in an adobe hut" and seemed disoriented during his capture. Odierno said the bedroom of the two-room hut contained a chair, bed and lots of clothes. The second room was a kitchen with running water.

Odierno said Saddam's lair did not contain any cellular phones or communications devices. He said Saddam had up to 30 other such hideouts in the Sunni Triangle and was believed to have allowed other Iraqis to direct the Sunni insurgency.

"I know he wasn't coordinating the entire effort, because I believe it's not coordinated nationally, and I don't think it ever was," the general said. "I believe there's some local and regional coordination that goes on. I think he was there more for moral support, and I don't think he was coordinating the entire effort."

Coalition sources said Saddam, turned in by one of his relatives, was flown from Tikrit to an unknown destination. The sources said Saddam would undergo an intensive interrogation in a U.S. military facility.

On late Sunday, the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television reported that Saddam was flown to a military base in Qatar. But U.S. sources said Saddam was still being held in Iraq.

"As we continued to conduct raids and capture people, we got more and more information on the families that were somewhat close to Saddam Hussein," Odierno said. "Over the last 10 days or so, we brought in about five or 10 members of these families, who then were able to give us even more information. And finally we got the ultimate information from one of these individuals."

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