Informants Guide U.S. Troops In Baqouba

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This is what can happen to you when you try and help U.S. soldiers in Iraq: You may be led away blindfolded with your hands bound, as one man was.

But it was for his own protection.

He is an informant. Only minutes before he was working with the U.S. soldiers, pointing out al Qaeda's houses, CBS News chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan reports exclusively.

Why is he taking this chance? Because, he says, al Qaeda burnt down his house and killed his brother.

"They blew up houses and arrested people for no reason. They want to make the Americans leave so they can occupy Iraq," he said through a translator.

Al Qaeda was in charge here until 10 days ago, when U.S. and Iraqi soldiers came to liberate the city. If you smoked in public, if you mixed the wrong kind of vegetables on your vegetable cart, you got beaten, tortured or worse.

Col. Steve Townsend says locals told them it was in this square that al Qaeda publicly executed well over 100 people.

"We found an al Qaeda torture house with torture implements in it. We found three al Qaeda aid stations equipped to varying degrees, one pretty sophisticated with oxygen and defibrillators and stuff like that," he said. "So I don't think we've had a lack of contact; what we have had is a heavy lack of fighting."

That has not meant a lack of danger for Townsend's soldiers. One controlled detonation failed to blow up an IED buried deep underground. So they tried again.

With more explosives, the earth erupted, shattering glass and knocking out power. It was one of 15 roadside bombs the soldiers found in an area the size of one U.S. city block.

Finding the culprits is not easy. Wires were traced to this empty house from which IEDs could be triggered across the city. But the family just across the road insisted they knew nothing about the men living there — a familiar tale.

Townsend's Iraqi counterpart compelled the father to swear on the Quran as he grew more and more distressed during the interrogation.

In the end, the soldiers believed him and keep moving through the city. Desperate families approached to find out if it's safe to return to their homes. But that still depends on how long U.S. soldiers are there to keep al Qaeda out.

  • Christine Lagorio

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