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March 22, 2003
 
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(AP Photo)
U.S. Believes Key Saddam Deputy Alive
U.S. Believes One of Saddam Hussein's Top Deputies Is Alive and in Charge of Some Troops

The Associated Press


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WASHINGTON March 22

U.S. intelligence indicates at least one of Saddam Hussein's top deputies is alive and may command some of Iraq's military efforts.

A senior U.S. official said Saturday there was no new, credible intelligence that would indicate whether Saddam or his sons Qusai and Odai were alive, dead or wounded.

State-run Iraqi television reported that Saddam held two meetings Saturday with senior government members and Qusai Hussein, who had been regarded as his father's likely successor.

Video footage from the meetings was not shown during the initial broadcast, but did air in an evening report. A military spokesman read a communique on the day's fighting, which included combat missions by Fedayeen Saddam, a paramilitary militia used by Saddam's government to oppress internal foes. It has been commanded by Odai Hussein.

The U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said one other high-level Iraqi leader was known to be alive: Saddam's cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid al-Tikriti, known to his enemies as "Chemical Ali" for leading a deadly 1988 campaign in northern Iraq against rebellious Kurds that included chemical weapons attacks.

Ali Hassan was not thought to be present in the war's opening strike that was aimed at Saddam.

As for Saddam, "I have no idea where he is right now," Gen. Tommy Franks said Saturday during a press briefing at command headquarters in Qatar. He said he believes there is "a certain confusion" going on within the Iraqi government as to control, and American forces do not consider their mission to be about Saddam alone.

"It is not about that one personality," Franks said. "In fact, it is about this regime. And so that's what we're going to focus on."

Described as one of Saddam's chief enforcers, Ali Hassan is believed to be commanding Iraqi military and security efforts in a large portion of southeastern Iraq. The Bush administration has said it wants Ali Hassan tried for war crimes or crimes against humanity.

The official also said that as of Saturday morning, the six fighting divisions of the veteran Republican Guard, most of which are guarding the approaches to Baghdad, appeared ready to fight.

Ali Hassan commands the southern sector facing U.S. and British troops in Kuwait. His 1988 campaign against rebels in northern Iraq, in which thousands of Kurds were killed, also earned him the monicker "butcher of the Kurds." He was linked to crackdowns on Shiites in southern Iraq as well.

Ali Hassan served as governor of Kuwait during Iraq's seven-month occupation of emirate in 1990-1991.


photo credit and caption:
Maj David "Bull" Gurfein, of New York City, right, with 1st Marine Expeditionnary Force, tears down a portrait of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in the southern border city of Safwan, Iraq, Friday, March 21, 2003. (AP Photo/Laurent Rebours)

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 
 
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