Saddam Was 'Disoriented and Bewildered' When Captured
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 14, 2003 Saddam Hussein had been living in "two small rooms in an adobe hut" and seemed disoriented and bewildered when captured by U.S. soldiers, the general in command of those soldiers said today.
Army Maj. Gen Ray Odierno, commander of the 4th Infantry Division, during a briefing from Iraq shortly after 11 a.m. EST, described the area in which Saddam was caught.
The small compound near the village of Adwar is about 15 miles southeast of Saddam's hometown of Tikrit, which generally is considered the seat of resistance in the country. The immediate area contained two farmhouses, a farmer's field, a sheep pen, and a hut in the middle where Saddam was hiding. It was close to the Tigris River, and soldiers found boats nearby, Odierno said.
The bedroom of the two-room hut contained one chair, one bed and "lots of clothes strewn all over the place," Odierno said. A rudimentary kitchen had a sink with running water and an area to cook in.
The hole Saddam was found in was nearby. Odierno said the opening was covered by a Styrofoam insert and a rug, which were then covered with dirt. The inside was "extremely small, (with) not a lot of space to move around."
Saddam had a pistol on him, which he never used, and $750,000 in U.S. currency was found in the hut. Two other people were captured at the compound. Odierno said the other two were not in the hole with Saddam and tried to run when coalition forces arrived. They were later captured when the soldiers cordoned off an area of about two square kilometers.
The general said he thought it ironic that palaces from the former regime were nearly in sight across the Tigris River. "I think it's rather ironic that he was in a hole in the ground across the river from these great palaces that he's built where he robbed all the money from the Iraqi people," Odierno said.
Saddam was disoriented as he came out of the hole, and said very little to the soldiers who detained him. Odierno said he was taken south to higher headquarters via helicopter within an hour after being captured. He gave no further details on where Saddam in being held, other than to say he is in U.S. military custody.
The soldiers who captured him were "very excited" once they realized who they were dealing with, but continued to act in a professional manner, Odierno said. The general explained that the 600 soldiers involved in the operation likely only knew they were going after a high-value target beforehand. Most probably had no idea who had been captured until after the operation was complete.
There were no cell phones or communications devices found in the area Saddam had been hiding, leading Odierno to conclude the former Iraqi dictator had not been running insurgency operations himself. "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."
Senior U.S. and other coalition officials have said repeatedly that they believe Saddam was regularly moving to new locations. Odierno is on the record as saying he believed the former dictator was moving as often as every three of four hours. His capture at this location seems to confirm those theories. Odierno said coalition troops had been in this area and even down this road before. The fact that soldiers found new clothing still in the wrappers in the compound also suggests that Saddam had not been there long, the general explained.
"My guess would be that he has probably 20-30 of these all around the country that he moves around," Odierno said. "And I believe he moved probably to several locations such as this. I'm assuming we'll find out once we get more information from him."
Odierno also said he believes Saddam had been moving in an area he called "the former regime element triangle" -- in between Kirkuk, Baqubah, and Tikrit and he hopes Saddam's capture will lead to even more intelligence information being collected.
"In the past when we've picked up people of importance, we've noticed that we've always had an influx of more intelligence," he said. "So I'm hoping that's what'll occur here and help us capture the other individuals that are involved in this insurgency."
The intelligence that led to this raid was a combination of information collected in both the long and short term. Since 4th Infantry Division soldiers arrived in the Tikrit area in April, intelligence officials have been working to gather information on Saddam and other officials.
"What we realized early on in the summer was that we believed the people we had to get to were the mid-level individuals, his bodyguards and other individuals who we knew were close to him," Odierno said. "In addition, we tried to work through family and tribal ties who might have been close to Saddam Hussein.
"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," the general continued. "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."