Two days after Abid Hamid Mahmud al-Tikriti was seized near Saddam's hometown of Tikrit, American commandos attacked a convoy of SUV's near the Syrian border. The convoy was believed to be carrying other members of Saddam's inner circle, perhaps even Saddam himself or one of his sons.
Attacking first from the air with AC-130 gunships and then on the ground, the Americans destroyed two of the SUV's and took 20 prisoners at a nearby compound, most of whom have since been released.
It will take DNA testing to know for sure but so far there is no indication Saddam or either of his sons were among the dead.
The U.S also captured five Syrian border guards, three of whom were wounded in an exchange of fire when the American commandos gave chase as one of the SUV's tried to escape across the border into Syria. The U.S. has promised Syria it will return the border guards.
In other developments:
U.S. officials increasingly believe Saddam survived two attempts to kill him during the war and that his fugitive status might be contributing to violence in postwar Iraq.
A massive effort is now underway to locate him. Iron Horse Task Force, comprising 26,000 troops from the 4th Infantry Division and led by the secretive CIA military team called Grey Fox, is hunting Saddam in northern Iraq, between Baghdad and Kirkuk, reports the Times of London.
The U.S. chief administrator of Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, acknowledged Sunday to industrialists and political leaders at the World Economic Forum in Jordan that security is a prerequisite for putting Iraq on the road to recovery.
Bremer insisted security was his "first priority," blaming continuing political violence and acts of sabotage on "a very small minority still trying to fight us" that is loyal to Saddam.
He also suggested that Iraqi oil revenues could be distributed directly to the country's citizens, as Alaska does with its residents, or placed in a national trust fund to pay for pensions or other social programs.
"Every individual Iraqi would come to understand that his or her stake in the country's economic success was there to see," Bremer said.