U.S. Nabs Saddam Bodyguards

U.S. Army troops of the 16th of the 1st Armored Div. pull security after two U.S. Army humvees were struck with a mortar round, Friday, July 25, 2003, in central Baghdad, Iraq. Two soldiers were injured in the attack and rushed to military medical facilities.
AP
U.S. troops captured a group of men believed to include some of Saddam Hussein's bodyguards in a raid near the former leader's hometown, a senior Army general said Friday.

Five to 10 of the 13 people captured in the Thursday night raid near Tikrit are believed to be members of Saddam's personal security detail, Maj. Gen. Ray Odierno said. He said it was too early to tell if the guards had been with the deposed Iraqi leader after the fall of Baghdad or could help lead Americans to him.

A tip from an Iraqi led the U.S. troops to the house, Odierno said. American forces also have questioned one of Saddam's two wives, he said.

"We continue to tighten the noose," said Odierno, commander of the Army's 4th Infantry Division. He spoke to reporters at the Pentagon via a two-way video hookup from his Tikrit headquarters.

"I believe because of it they are moving around very quickly, they are very unsettled, and they are not living a very good life right now because we are constantly on their trail," Odierno said, speaking of Saddam and other former Iraqi officials.

Tikrit is Saddam's hometown, a source of continuing support for his deposed regime.

CBS News Correspondent Randall Pinkston spoke with Muhammad d'Ami, a professor at the University of Baghdad, who said many Iraqis may have useful information on Saddam's whereabouts. But after three decades of repression and cruelty, they may be afraid to talk, even with the U.S.'s $25 million bounty on Saddam.

"People cannot remove the fear, cannot remove the terror all of a sudden," he said. They are still under the nightmare of being captured, the nightmare of being tormented."

There are signs that things are changing, that the fear may have receded somewhat.

When CBS' Pinkston approached an Iraqi woman at a local market, and asked if she'd be willing to volunteer information on Saddam if she had it, the woman said, "I would kill him with my own hands." The deposed dictator had killed her brother, she said.

Despite the deaths of Saddam's sons this week, attacks on Americans continued. The U.S. military said Friday that American troops were attacked in Iraq several times during the night, but no one was killed.

There were no details of the incidents. The military estimates insurgents have been attacking U.S. forces nearly a dozen times a day.

Meanwhile, a U.S. Army officer says several hundred Army uniforms have been stolen, including garments bearing nameplates, unit patches and flags. A search is under way. The officer says insurgents haven't been found wearing the clothes, but U.S. troops want to find the uniforms to prevent that from happening.

In other developments:

  • Japan's Parliament approved a law to send troops to Iraq, allowing Japanese ground forces to join allies in providing humanitarian assistance.
  • The U.S. military displayed the bodies of Saddam's sons, the faces reconstructed to appear as lifelike as possible after still photographs failed to convince many Iraqis the brothers were really dead.
  • Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld dismisses any suggestion that U.S. troops could have taken the sons alive. He points out that U.S. troops demanded they surrender, but they responded with a hail of gunfire.
  • Rumsfeld says there is no guerrilla war in Iraq. He says the word to describe it is "unconventional." Since the war began, 239 U.S. soldiers have died — 101 since major combat was declared over May 1.
  • Secretary of State Colin Powell says a U.S. request for the deployment of Turkish troops in Iraq is receiving the "most active consideration."

    The military showed Western journalists the autopsied bodies covered only by sheets and presented identifying evidence, including dental records and a rod from Odai's leg.

    Odai's beard had been trimmed to the length he had worn it in life. Qusai's beard was shaved off and he had only a mustache, his trademark. The faces appeared waxy and heavily made up.

    U.S. officials said the bodies would be stored in a refrigerated tent at Baghdad International Airport until a family member came forward to claim them.

    Even if the U.S.-led coalition convinces Iraqis that it has managed to kill Saddam's sons, it may not cut deeply into support for their elusive father.

    Pictures of Saddam still hang in Tarek Saber's restaurant in Tikrit, the former president's hometown. Locals munch on kebabs and hummus underneath the portraits, unafraid to talk of their loyalty to him.

    U.S. troops had driven through the town Wednesday announcing over loudspeakers that the feared brothers were gone for good, killed in a Tuesday raid. "The coalition troops announce the deaths of Odai and Qusai in Mosul," they said in Arabic. Tikritis listened skeptically.

    With Odai and Qusai gone, and the $25 million bounty on Saddam's head, chances he will be caught is is growing ever more likely, coalition officials claim. But the money doesn't seem likely to spur a betrayal by the people here, where Saddam was born and members of his clan dominate.

    "Do I support Saddam?" asked Jamal al-Badri, leaning over the counter of his electrical appliances store. "I won't answer that question, and you can take my answer from that." He looked up at the entrance and noticed a neighbor hovering outside the door.

    The people of Tikrit were blessed and set apart from their countrymen in Saddam's Iraq. Saddam's loyalty to his hometown made its residents comparatively wealthy, and he gave members of his own tribe high-level positions in the military and government agencies.

    While some Iraqis rejoiced in other parts of the country over news of the Hussein brothers' deaths, people here who were privileged during Saddam's iron rule still hold their breath, waiting for Saddam to return.

    "I want him to come back," one man said. "There weren't these kinds of problems when he was around," he said, speaking of fuel shortages and power cuts that are crippling coalition efforts to restore order.