Rumsfeld: Saddam's 'Death Squads' Preventing More Iraqi Surrenders
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Mar. 27, 2003 U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has a three-word answer to why more Iraqi troops aren't laying down their arms and surrendering to coalition forces: Saddam's death squads.
The death squads are "enforcers," part of Fedayeen Saddam, a paramilitary organization headed by Hussein's eldest son Uday, Rumsfeld told reporters today on Capitol Hill.
The Fedayeen "go into the cities and shoot people and threaten people and insist that they not surrender and not rise up," the secretary explained during a break in his testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee. "And, they're vicious," he added, estimating Fedayeen Saddam has 5,000 to 20,000 members.
The secretary related how the Fedayeen recently dealt with an unfortunate Iraqi who opposed the regime. "They left somebody in the center of Baghdad not too long ago with his tongue pulled out until he had bled to death - cut his tongue out," Rumsfeld said.
The Fedayeen aren't just in Baghdad, but are deployed across the country.
"And they're shooting - executing -- people in Basra, Rumsfeld declared.
The secretary noted that such horrific behavior shouldn't surprise anyone who has followed Hussein's 20-plus year career as Iraq's dictator. Hussein, after all, has "used chemicals on his own people, as well as his neighbors," Rumsfeld pointed out.
More than 4,000 Iraqi troops are now in custody as prisoners of war, U.S. officials have reported.