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
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
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
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
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.
|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
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