Saddam capture story challenged

Political theater can make reality very difficult to apprehend at times. The capture of Saddam Hussein has brought much gloating and praising from Washington, D.C., and administration lackeys in Iraq.

The odd thing is, quite a few people don’t buy the official story. Washington claims brilliant intelligence work by U.S. agencies and the military led to the capture. But that claim is being challenged by Iraq’s Kurdish leadership.

The first report of the Dec. 13 arrest came from a news agency based in Tehran, Iran. U.S. forces are said to have seized Saddam about 8:30 p.m., Iraq time, but they sat on the news until 3 p.m. the next day.

But in the early hours of Sunday, a Kurdish language wire service reported: “Saddam Hussein was captured by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). 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 U.S. soldiers. Further details of the capture will emerge during the day; but the global Kurdish party is about to begin!”

The Sydney Morning Herald said Western media in Baghdad were electrified by the news, but as more developed on the capture, these media relied nearly exclusively on accounts from the U.S. military and intelligence organizations, and began their accounts with the remark of the U.S. administrator of Iraq and Kissinger employee, Paul Bremer: “Ladies and gentlemen: we got ’im.”

U.S. officials claimed they learned of Saddam’s location through questioning of one of the 20 suspects held on Dec. 13 and had immediately assembled a force of 600 troops to surround the farm at al-Dwar, south of Tikrit, where Saddam was caught.

Scant attention was given to a statement in the Pentagon briefing documents saying that some of the Kurdish militia might have been in on what was described as a “joint operation,” or to a statement by Ahmed Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress, an expatriate group, that said Qusrat and his PUK forces had furnished vital information and more.

The Sunday Herald, published in Scotland, quoted from an interview on the PUK radio station in which Adil Murad, a member of the PUK’s political bureau, said the day before Saddam’s capture he was tipped off by PUK general Thamir-al-Sultan, that Saddam would be arrested in the next 72 hours.

The British Sunday Express quoted an unnamed Western intelligence source in the Mideast who said: “Saddam was not captured as a result of any American or British intelligence. We knew that someone would eventually take their revenge. It was just a matter of time.”

Kurdish sources say they found Saddam, captured him, drugged him and left him in the “spider hole,” then told the Americans where to find him. This reportedly was done in return for a grant of some political power in the northern area. Nothing has been said as to what becomes of the $25 million reward the U.S. offered for Saddam dead or alive.

The Kurdish Patriotic Front claims Saddam was betrayed by a member of the al-Jabour tribe, whose daughter was raped by Saddam’s son, Uday. That touched off a blood feud, according to the Sunday Express. The paper said the full story of what led up to the capture “exposes the version peddled by American spin doctors as incomplete.”

A report from Suliymaniah, a northern stronghold of the PUK, said several days ago that a vital intelligence break came after a telephone conversation between Qusrat and Saddam’s second wife, Samirah.

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