Documents Found With Saddam Point to Regime Network
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Dec. 16, 2003 Intelligence from the capture of Saddam Hussein already is making Baghdad a safer place.
Army Brig. Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, commander of the 1st Armored Division here, said documents found with Saddam have allowed his forces to attack cells of former regime figures and make significant inroads against the financial network supporting the groups.
"What the capture of Saddam Hussein revealed is the structure that existed above the local cellular structure call it a network," Dempsey said during an interview with press traveling with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers. "We now know how the cells are financed and how they are given broad general guidance."
Dempsey said Saddam did not exercise control of the cells as Americans would define it. Rather, the cells were provided funds and given a broad mission. "We still believe their actions against us are conducted locally, and with very little guidance from above other than 'impede progress,'" he said.
The general said 10 to 14 of these cells have operated in Baghdad, and that the 1st Armored Division has been successful against six. "The remaining challenge is about eight cells and that network that sits above them," Dempsey said.
The intelligence find clarified the set-up of a group called "Mohammad's Army." These are the people with the most to lose if a new Iraq arises, he said. The group is a loosely affiliated enemy consisting of members of the former regime's intelligence service, some religious extremists and former military personnel. "They had positions of advantage in the former regime, and they'd like them back," Dempsey said.
The find allowed division soldiers to attack the network above the cells. "Just in the last 24 hours (the soldiers) chipped away at that network above them to the 60th percentile," Dempsey said.
Dempsey said the cells themselves differ from neighborhood to neighborhood, and in some parts of the city the cells are larger than in others. In Baghdad, a city of 5.5 million people, the general said he figures there are 1,000 cell members the division is fighting. "That's the scope of the problem," he said. "I'd say 100 of those, maybe 200, are passionate about it, and the others are just taking advantage of the situation for money or whatever."
Communication between the network and Saddam was really one-way, Dempsey said, with people reporting to the deposed dictator via courier. The general said the intelligence that allowed the division to attack the network was minutes of a meeting with a list of names of those present. He said those apprehended were high-ranking military officers in the former regime.
Figuring out this linkage between a network and the cell structure "has been my life for the last seven months. This is what its all about," Dempsey said. "We have plenty of combat power -- it's trying to figure out where to apply it. If you sense some enthusiasm on my part, it's because we are getting closer and closer over time, which is what it takes."
The general said there has been an uptick in human intelligence tips from Iraqis since Saddam was captured. "We can't understand what it was like to live for 25 years, not trusting your neighbor because of the regime," he said.
There also is no question that Baghdad is safer now than in the past, he said. "But my charter from the president is 'safe and secure.' I'm not ready to declare it secure yet, but we're moving in the right direction," the general said.