July 26, 2003

Breathing down Saddam's neck

The Americans say they have captured several of Saddam’s bodyguards, and yesterday it emerged that they believed they had come close to seizing the former Iraqi leader in Mosul shortly after the deaths of his sons last Tuesday.

According to military sources, intelligence intercepted a single satellite phone signal known to belong to Saddam during the bombardment of the building where Uday and Qusay were trapped.

Soldiers searched the nearby villa from which the call was made but Saddam was not there. US officers said the intercept was highly accurate, and they were convinced he had been hiding in the building. Yesterday they said they believed he was still in Mosul.

From tomorrow's Sunday Times of London.

NOTE: The full article leads off with an interview with one of Uday's chief executioners, apparently still at large. His work reportedly involved such grisly tasks as mass beheadings and feeding victims to lions.

UPDATE: The article has now been reprinted here, for readers without access to the Times of London website.

UPDATE: And the hunt continues:

US soldiers said they missed catching Saddam Hussein's security chief - and possibly the former dictator himself - by a mere 24 hours. . .

Troops stormed three farms in Tikrit, Saddam's hometown town, in simultaneous pre-dawn raids after receiving a tip that Saddam's new security chief was staying at one of the farm houses, said Lt Col Steve Russell, who led the operation by the 4th Infantry.

"We missed him by 24 hours," Lt Col Russell said, adding residents told soldiers that the man they sought had been at one of the farm houses.

Posted by David on July 26, 2003 10:03 PM


More stupidity here: why did that military source spill the beans about the sat phone intercept? Figure the odds that Saddam will use that phone again. This is why we need to protect sources and methods of intelligence: so we can continue to exploit the source with our collection methods.

Posted by: Mike on July 27, 2003 11:18 AM

Mike's concerns are valid enough if the report is true - but there could also be intential misinformation from U.S. forces; or the Sunday Times is just wrong. It's not as if mainstream media has done a creditable job during the war. Time will tell - but in the end, he's ours.

Posted by: Tim on July 27, 2003 11:37 AM

our ability to intercept sat phone calls is well known since that other reporter clued bin laden in years ago... my read is an intentional misinformation to protect the real intel source. fair enough.

Posted by: Frank on July 27, 2003 7:04 PM

Mike: There is a thing in Sun Tzu about appearing weak where you are strong, and stupid when you are smart. Assuming the report is true, Saddam now knows (assuming he read this report) he can not use that phone any more. He loses the ability to communicate with his people, arrange new safe houses etc.

I had the same thought when they identified the "walk in" who gave us Uday and Qusay, as a cousin who owned the house. Why do that? Even if not true, Saddam now has to worry about his own family members, leaving him with NO ONE to trust.

So now, devoid of communications (at least sat com) and unable to trust a soul, with a 25 million dollar price on his head, his son's dead, and most of Iraq hating his guts, he is not in a nice mental space. Whether the stories or reports are true or not, he has to assume they are true, and therefore worry all the more.

Posted by: Ben on July 29, 2003 5:25 AM
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