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[casi] =?Windows-1252?Q?Re:_=5Bcasi=5D_Saddam=92s_WMD_in_Samarra_Tunnels_-_US_in?==?Windows-1252?Q?telligence_Estimates_?=

It was my impression that Debka is run out of a residential apartment in the
suburbs of Tel Aviv..  Am I wrong about this? pg
----- Original Message -----
From: "AS-ILAS" <>
To: "casi" <>
Sent: Monday, July 14, 2003 6:53 AM
Subject: [casi] Saddam’s WMD in Samarra Tunnels - US intelligence Estimates

Saddam’s WMD in Samarra Tunnels - US intelligence Estimates

>From DEBKA-Net-Weekly 116 Updated by DEBKAfile - II

July 14, 2003, 1:04 PM (GMT+02:00)

Monday, July 14, American forces in Iraq suffered their 32nd death since May
1 when a military convoy was assaulted with rocket-propelled grenades and
machine guns while patrolling the Mansour district of Baghdad. Another six
troops were injured. The attack took place on the anniversary of the 1958
overthrow of the Iraqi monarchy, one of the anniversaries the new Iraqi
governing council abolished at its inaugural meeting the day before. To
pre-empt the expected “anniversary campaign” against its troops, the
American army launched Operation Ivy Serpent focusing on the triangle north
and west of Baghdad, from which most of the deadly attacks emanate.
Secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld said frankly Sunday, July 13, that he
did not expect the summer to be peaceful for US forces in Iraq and did not
rule out consigning reinforcements “as needed”.

To subscribe to DEBKA-Net-Weekly click HERE .

DEBKA-Net-Weekly, in its last issue on July 11, defined two tough questions
posed by the current military situation in Iraq as being:

1. What is stopping the American army from going into Saddam Hussein’s
fortified underground bases around Samarra, capturing the former ruler and
his sons and removing the threat posed by the enclave to the Bush
administration’s overall plans for the Middle East and global war on terror?

2. Why have US forces allowed Saddam’s forces a free hand to plague them
with attacks in the Baghdad-Ramadi-Falluja-Balad triangle, when those
attacks have clearly tipped over from irregular warfare into well-prepared
professional military operations?

(Both areas are marked on DEBKAfile Special Map attached to the first
article in this series: Saddam in Iraq – Not just a taped voice)

On Sunday, July 5, General Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, said that despite the string of deadly attacks on coalition forces,
“the resistance in Iraq is far from monolithic or nationwide, instead
appearing fragmented and limited to a small triangular area from Baghdad to
the north and west.”

Three days later, the chief US civil administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer,
voiced the opposite view: “The continuing attacks are the work of
professional assailants and loyalists of Mr Hussein and possibly terrorists
who appear in some cases to have had military training.”

These divergent appraisals by two top American strategists on Iraq mean
either that the Bush administration cannot make up its mind how to handle
the post-war situation, or else it has come to a decision but neglected to
inform US personnel in the field.

Whichever it is, up until the publication of this issue, our sources found
no US forces in Iraq venturing into the enclave in which Saddam, his sons
and high command are thought to be holed up in well-prepared underground
citadels. No American troops are to be seen Samarra which remains dominated
pro-Saddam loyalists.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military sources have several explanations for this

1. The first is a scenario. US Task Force 20, the unit formed to catch
Saddam Hussein and sons and locate his unconventional weapons, hopes to put
them to sleep by letting them believe they are gaining control in Iraq – and
then, when they are off guard, pounce. Based on this premise, US forces are
getting ready for the final battle well out of sight in other parts of the

2. The Americans may be short of precise intelligence on the ex-ruler’s
subterranean fortresses and facilities, his precise whereabouts in the
system and its secret openings. They also need to know more about his battle
strength. US surveillance and intelligence teams may well be on covert
missions in the target zone looking for this information.

3. Like the last days before the war, American and foreign go-betweens are
seeking access to people close to Saddam so as to explore the possibility of
negotiating his surrender without a battle. We have received exclusive
information that such contacts are indeed taking place mixed rather than
encouraging results. High-ranking Bush administration officials have been
told that while the prospect of American forces raiding their underground
hideouts strikes profound dread in the hearts of the men around the Saddam,
the same men are gaining courage day by day and venturing to hope that their
leader will eventually prevail.

This mood is having a psychological effect not only on Saddam loyalists,
ex-military, Baathists and Sunni Muslims. Non-Sunni religious and ethnic
figures across the country have been infected with enough uncertainty to
keep a close watch on Samarra to see what happens.

4. The determining factor holding American military hands may be the
indications found by US intelligence that Saddam Hussein has gone
underground with the portion of his chemical and biological weapons that
were not smuggled out to Syria.

On January 17, 2003, DEBKA-Net-Weekly No. 93 published a verbatim interview
in Amman, Jordan, with a former Saddam bodyguard we called Jassem Abdulla, a
pseudonym to protect him from assassination by Saddam’s agents.

Following is an excerpt from that interview:

Where are the weapons of mass destruction?

In the desert. It is a vast expanse, and they have cameras,,, the minute
someone approaches, such as UN personnel, they move to another place. Tikrit
is closest to the site. Weapons are also located in Baghdad.

There's a place called Ouja near Tikrit. (Ed. Between Tikrit and Samarra.)
It’s a peninsula of sand dunes. I saw with my own eyes bunkers that move
from place to place inside the dunes, underground. It is simply
unbelievable; it is done by remote control.

Twenty-five people went there in 1994. We were told they were Americans, but
the truth is we really didn't know who they were. They were there for four
years, until 1998. In early 1991, they worked there and built weapons of
mass destruction. But I don't know what's exactly there now. No one saw
them. They came by car, with maps. It was strange, because we thought
sanctions were in place, but they came and built the complex. Immediately
afterwards, they brought the bombs and weapons systems. They built a ceiling
and put chemical and biological weapons inside. The Russians followed, and
there were Chinese in there too. The Russians tested the strength of the
structure. They fired at it and set off explosions. But nothing happened to
the Chinese inside. They did not die. I saw the Chinese leave the complex
one by one and in one piece.”

This testimony has been borne out by subsequent intelligence probes in Iraq.
However, the most intense efforts to reach that hidden cache have thus far
been defeated.

Firstly, in mid-April, Task Force 20 began scouring the country for Iraqi
officers and personnel involved in concealing the forbidden weapons or
secreting them out of the country to Syria. The force received hundreds of
leads. By the time a team arrived at a suspect location, it was invariably
bare of contents. The Bush administration is still hunting for solid proof
of Saddam’s possession of WMD since testimony by his top regime officials
and scientists will not satisfy the skeptics.

Secondly Many of the officers and men of the Special Republican Guards
listed as operators of chemical and biological warfare systems, who denied
knowledge of their whereabouts in earlier interrogations, have recently
disappeared from their homes. Some have turned up around Samarra.

A key deterrent to a major US assault on Saddam’s subterranean bases in the
Samarra enclave is the possibility of him letting loose with the toxic
weapons cached with him. According to every intelligence estimate, Saddam
has never used his weapons of mass destruction outside Iraq. Even during the
Iraq-Iran war that ended in 1989, he waited till Iranian troops invaded
before attacking them with poison gas. He is unlikely to pass up the
opportunity of fighting off an American assault inside Iraq with
unconventional weapons.

Washington’s options as seen by DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military experts are as
tough as its dilemmas:

A. Unconventional warfare, including tactical nuclear weapons, would be the
surest and most efficient way to overcome the Saddam enclave and wipe out
the burgeoning military threat it poses to US forces in the country. That
option is unthinkable. Washington cannot become the first power to use
weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. In any case, although Saddam, his
illegal weapons and all his works would be wiped out for good, so too would
the proof needed to convince American and world opinion that the Bush
administration had good reason, namely the unconventional weapons in the
hands of the Iraqi ruler, for going to war in the first place. Mistrust of
Washington’s motives would only gain ground.

B. A massive conventional assault on the Saddam enclave might work, but it
might equally expose US troops to the risk of Iraqi chemical or biological
warfare. Substantial military reinforcements would also be called for, a
contentious issue in Washington.

C. Washington might be better off not attacking the enclave at all but
casting it into isolation by means of a protracted siege.

Most experts agree that Washington’s current state of indecision is the
worst possible course. It opens the way for Saddam to grasp the initiative,
decide what happens next and determine whether to engage in a fight to the
finish or make a run for it.

This would leave Washington sunk in exactly the same quandary as it faced
ten days before going to war.

The uncertainty also has a detrimental effect on the Palestinian-Israeli
conflict and the prospects of dragging it out of stalemate. Syrian president
Bashar Assad and Hizballah chairman Haasan Nasrallah are heavily invested in
both conflicts. So too is Yasser Arafat, who is matching his steps with
Saddam Hussein and waiting for the outcome of the coming round of warfare in
Iraq. Any gains by the deposed Iraqi ruler will encourage Arafat to further
wreck the slim chances of progress in the exchanges between Mahmoud Abbas
and Israel.

As it is, terrorist groups on the West Bank and Gaza Strip do not bother to
hide their preparations to revive their suicide assaults immediately after
the agreed ceasefire ends in two months. Hamas, undeterred by the roundup of
20 operatives out of thousands in a timid operation by Abbas’ internal
security minister Mohammed Dahlan, has been testing over the Mediterranean
the range of the thousand or more Qassam surface missiles accumulated during
the period of relative calm. In Ramallah, Arafat’s terrorist masterminds
have been busy too. His allies in the southern Gaza Strip are smuggling in a
fresh supply of weapons and explosives from Egypt while keeping up the level
of shootings and bombings. IDF forces are constrained by adjusted rules of
engagement from destroying the smuggling tunnels, as well as going after
West Bank terrorist gangs. Thus, the general level of attacks may have
dropped, but the situation is far from being a truce. In the last two weeks,
gunmen have sniped at Israeli road workers, a suicide attack was carried out
in Yabets village inside Israel, a taxi driver was taken hostage by Arafat’s
Fatah and an Irish bomb expert imported to improve the performance of Arafat
’s bombers so that he can escalate his campaign to mega-attacks in Israeli

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