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Re: [casi] Revealed: who really found Saddam? Herald

 Have the US and Kurds and Israel made a private deal?   Connections
important for deciding Iraqi/OIL future?

Completely murky- any thoughts?

I guess we shall  just have to see.    pg
1.   Did Kurds Dupe Bush's Brass; or Did Bush Sell Out Iraqis to  Kurds as
Part of Saddam Handover Deal?

By Rob Kall

Agence France Press reports that  Saddam was, for purposes of revenge for a
rape by his son, held prisoner by the Kurds  then drugged and stashed, as a
prisoner, in a "spider hole" he couldn't escape from. It is logical to
assume that the Kurds cut a deal for handing Saddam over to the US, and that
the Kurds had reasons for leaving him with a stash of hundreds of thousands
of dollars, two AK-47 machine guns and documents in a briefcase with a lot
of names.

The cash was a way to prove that it was the real Saddam. Who else would be
wandering around Iraq with that kind of money. Besides, they were expecting,
or perhaps, had already received the $25 million or more, if they smart
enough to demand it, from the desperate-for good news Bush administration.

 The weapons were, perhaps a temptation, which if Saddam had chosen to use
them, would surely have led to his instant death. They were also a nice
touch for distracting the world from the fact that he was, in spite of the
weapons (and no-one ever said they were loaded) a prisoner. They were
further camouflage.  And then we get to the documents in the briefcase.
That's where it gets very interesting.

Now that the world is coming around to the realization that the US military
did not perform some miraculous capture, the next step is to ask some

How much of a reward did the US pay the Kurds for the capture and delivery
of Saddam?

What spurious information did the Kurds put in the notebook, so the US would
act to do the dirty work of  picking up Baathists and former Baathists who
the Kurds would like to have out of the way, or who the Kurds would like to
seek revenge against?

Of course one of the ingredients in the Iraqi quagmire has been the very
touchy balance of power between the Kurds, the rest of the Iraqi peoples and
the Turks. Australia's THE AGE newspaper reports "Saddam came into the hands
of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK.)"  It doesn't talk about Kurds,
but a Kurdish state. Except, that state does not officially exist. It's a
dream of the Kurds in Northern Iraq, and a nightmare for Turks.

The US military has touted how they've made a sweep of over 100 arrests
based on the documents found in Saddam's briefcase. It would make sense that
the Kurds would at least remove the names of people they wanted to protect,
and even more likely that they'd set up the documents with names of people
they wanted to get rid of. After all, Saddam wouldn't be able to edit or
check the documents in the dark hole in the ground.

At first, last week, the day after the capture, I merely speculated, based
on observations by Debkafiles,  that Saddam was already a prisoner before
the US military arrived, and that they were trying to pull off another
Jessica Lynch fake heroic, brilliant capture. But now, it seems like the
Bush team has done worse than trump up a story with misleading puffery,
taking credit where it is not deserved. And be assured, the micro-managers
in the Bush regime-- Cheney, Wolfowitz, Perle-- have had their fingers in
every step of the "Saddam Captured Event."

Worse than just  misleading the American people, who are hungry for positive
news, they may very well have been launched on a Kurd designed vendetta of
revenge and strategy to alter the emerging power structure in Iraq.

If it turns out to be true that the Kurds had Saddam first, then it is
highly likely that the Bush team and its military chain of command have been
duped into helping the cause of the Kurds, potentially severely affecting
the fragile balance they have been trying to achieve. Or, if you want to go
even a step further in speculation, perhaps the Bush chain of command
intentionally cooperated with the Kurds as part of a deal for the delivery
of Hussein, a deal that handed the Kurds a strong strategic advantage.

Bottom line, is we're not getting the whole truth about what we paid for
Saddam, in cash and, more important, other factors of the deal. We may have
been duped by the Kurds or we may have cut a deal that sold out the Iraqi
interests and there is clearly, more than the eye can easily see.

Sunday, December 21, 2003. 10:07am (AEDT)   Aus Broadcasting Corp

2.    RAAF spied on Iran for US without approval: report

The US military have reportedly ordered Australian military aircraft to spy
on Iran without the prior approval from the Federal Government.The Sun
Herald newspaper has reported that Defence Minister Senator Robert Hill is
allegedly angry that the RAAF deployed Orion aircraft in a mission to spy on
Iran without asking his permission first.

"The work being done by Orion aircraft is maritime surveillance in the war
against terror in Iraq," a spokeswoman for Senator Hill said.

"At all times we are operation in the bounds of international law."

She refused to confirm or deny the newspaper report.

The newspaper quoted a what it called a senior defence source as saying:
"Hill was entitled to be consulted from the start on such a politically
delicate decision even if he was expected to eventually agree".


Al Jazeera reports in "Israel planning Iran attack": Israel is considering a
military strike to destroy the nuclear programme of Iran, now regarded as
Tel Aviv's number one enemy.

The Israeli daily Haaretz cited defence minister Shaul Mofaz as telling
Israel radio's Persian service last week that if a decision was made to
destroy Iran's nuclear capability, "necessary steps will be taken so that
Iranian citizens will not be harmed."

Since the collapse of Saddam Hussein's rule in Iraq, Israel has come to
regard the Islamic government in Tehran as its number one enemy.

al Jazeera  December 21


ANKARA [MENL] -- Turkey has accused Israel of purchasing oil from Kurdish
controlled areas of northern Iraq.

Turkish officials said the government of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan has
been alarmed by reports that Israel has purchased oil from the Kirkuk area.
They said the oil being traded by Kurdish groups was meant to be exported to
Ankara via the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry has relayed a formal protest to Israel's
ambassador to Ankara, Pinchas Avivi. Officials said the ministry called on
Israel to immediately halt the purchases.

Israel has not confirmed that it purchased oil from northern Iraq. Israel
has a small military and commercial presence in Iraq, particularly in the
Kurdish north.
5.    Arab News Tuesday, 23, December, 2003

... In a piece of good news to the beleaguered country, a member of the
Iraqi Governing Council said yesterday that Russia has offered to write off
65 percent of Iraq’s $8 billion debt __after Baghdad signaled that Moscow
was in a good position to revive prewar oil contracts__.

Governing Council member Samir Sumaidy said Russia made the proposal at a
meeting between President Vladimir Putin and the head of the Governing
Council Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim at the Kremlin.

“Putin has made an offer of Russia exempting Iraq from 65 percent of their
debts. That is a decision made by Russia to be confirmed within the Paris
Club,” Sumaidy told reporters after attending a meeting at the Kremlin.

6.    Iraq Foreign Minister Hints on Contracts

Once the U.S.-led provisional authority hands power over to Iraqis next
year, the Baghdad government will not discriminate against countries wanting
to help rebuild the country, Iraq's foreign minister said Monday.

____The comments by Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari appeared to be an
implicit criticism of the U.S. decision to bar firms based in countries that
opposed the Iraq war from bidding on $18.6 billion in contracts for Iraqi
reconstruction projects____.


_____Zebari stressed that he was not criticizing the U.S. decision. But he
said the "new Iraq," which will emerge after the U.S.-led Coalition
Provisional Authority hands power over to Iraqis in July, would do things

"They are free to spend their money the way they want," he said of the

But, he added, "The new Iraq would not discriminate against any countries"
when it comes to reconstruction projects.

Zebari spoke with reporters during a visit to Italy, in which he urged
foreign businesses to invest in Iraq despite the tense security situation.

----- Original Message -----
From: "ppg" <>
To: <>
Sent: Monday, December 22, 2003 8:11 PM
Subject: [casi] Revealed: who really found Saddam? Herald

Another more detailed versionpg

Revealed: who really found Saddam?

Saddam’s capture was the best present George Bush could have hoped for, and
then Gaddafi handed a propaganda gift to Blair. But nothing’s ever that
By Foreign Editor David Pratt

It was exactly one week ago at 3.15pm Baghdad time, when a beaming Paul
Bremer made that now-famous announce ment: “Ladies and gentlemen, we got
Saddam Hussein: High Value Target Number One. The Glorious Leader. The Lion
of Babylon had been snared. Iraq’s most wanted – the ace of spades – had
become little more than an ace in the hole.

In Baghdad’s streets, Kalashnikov bullets rained down in celebration. In the
billets of US soldiers, there were high fives, toasts and cigars. In the
Jordanian capital Amman, an elderly woman overcome by grief broke down in
tears and died. Inside a snow-blanketed White House, George W Bush prepared
to address the nation.

“There’s an end to everything,” said a sombre Safa Saber al-Douri, a former
Iraqi air force pilot, now a grocer in al-Dwar, the town where only hours
earlier one of the greatest manhunts in history had ended under a
polystyrene hatch in a six foot deep “spider hole.”

But just how did that endgame come about? Indeed, who exactly were the key
players in what until then had been a frustrating and sometimes embarrassing
hunt for a former dictator with a $25 million (£14m) bounty on his head?

For 249 days there was no shortage of US expertise devoted to the hunt. But
the Pentagon has always remained tight-lipped about those individuals and
groups involved, such as Task Force 20, said to be America’s most elite
covert unit, or another super-secret team known as Greyfox, which
specialises in radio and telephone surveillance.

Saddam, of course, was never likely to use the phone, and the best chance of
locating him would always be as a result of informers or home-grown Iraqi
intelligence. On this and their collaboration with anti-Saddam groups the
Americans have also remained reticent.

Enter one Qusrat Rasul Ali, otherwise known as the lion of Kurdistan. A
leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), Rasul Ali was once
tortured by Saddam’s henchmen, but today is chief of a special forces unit
dedicated to hunting down former Ba’athist regime leaders.

Rasul Ali’s unit had an impressive track record. It was they who last
August, working alone, arrested Iraqi vice-president Taha Yassin Ramadan in
Mosul, northern Iraq. Barely a month earlier in the al-Falah district of the
same town, the PUK is believed to have played a crucial role in the
pinpointing and storming of a villa that culminated in the deaths of Saddam’
s sons Uday and Qusay.

In that mixed district of Mosul where Arabs, Kurds and Turkemen live side by
side, PUK informers went running to their leader Jalal Talabani’s nearest
military headquarters to bring him news on the exact location of the villa
where both Uday and Qusay had taken shelter.

Armed with the information, Talabani made a beeline for US administration
offices in Baghdad, where deputy defence secretary Paul Wolfowitz was based
for a week’s stay in Iraq at the time.

The Kurdish leader and US military chiefs conferred and decided that PUK
intelligence would go ahead and secretly surround the Zeidan villa and
install sensors and eavesdropping devices. The Kurdish agents were
instructed to prepare the site for the US special forces operation to storm
the building on July 22.

American officials later said they expected that the $30m bounty promised by
their government for the capture or death of the Hussein sons would be paid.
Given their direct involvement in providing the exact location and
intelligence necessary, no doubt Talabani’s PUK operatives could lay claim
to the sum, but no confirmation of any delivery or receipt of the cash has
ever been made.

The PUK and Rasul Ali’s special “Ba’athist hunters” have, it seems, been
doing what the Americans have consistently failed to do. In an interview
with the PUK’s al-Hurriyah radio station last Wednesday, Adil Murad, a
member of the PUK’s political bureau, confirmed that the Kurdish unit had
been pursuing fugitive Ba’athists for the past months in Mosul, Samarra,
Tikrit and areas to the south including al-Dwar where Saddam was eventually
cornered. Murad even says that the day before Saddam’s capture he was tipped
off by PUK General Thamir al-Sultan, that Saddam would be arrested within
the next 72 hours.

Clearly the Kurdish net was closing on Saddam, and PUK head Jalal Talabani
and Rasul Ali were once again in the running for US bounty – should any be

It was at about 10.50am Baghdad time on last Saturday when US intel ligence
says it got the tip it was looking for. But it was not until 8pm, with the
launch of Operation Red Dawn, that they finally began to close in on the

The US media reported that the tip-off came from an Iraqi man who was
arrested during a raid in Tikrit, and even speculated that he could get part
of the bounty. “It was intelligence, actionable intelligence,” claimed Lt
General Ricardo Sanchez, commander of coalition ground forces in Iraq. “It
was great analytical work.”

But the widely held view that Kurdish intelligence was the key to the
operation was supported in a statement released last Sunday by the Iraqi
Governing Council. Ahmed Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress,
said that Rasul Ali and his PUK special forces unit had provided vital
information and more.

Last Saturday, as the US operation picked up speed, the Fourth Infantry
Division moved into the area surrounding two farms codenamed Wolverine 1 and
Wolverine 2 near al-Dwar, the heart of the Saddam heartland – a military
town where practically every man is a military officer past or present. It
is said to have a special place in Saddam’s sentiments because it was from
here that he swam across the Tigris River when he was a dissident fleeing
arrest in the 1960s.

Every year on August 28, the town marks Saddam’s escape with a swimming
contest . In 1992, Saddam himself attended the race. It was won by a man
called Qais al-Nameq. It was al-Nameq’s farmhouse – Wolverine 2 – that about
600 troops, including engineers, artillery and special forces, surrounded,
cutting off all roads for about four or five miles around.

Next to a sheep pen was a ramshackle orange and white taxi, which US
officials say was probably used to ferry Saddam around while he was on the
run, sometimes moving every three or four hours.

Inside the premises was a walled compound with a mud hut and small lean-to.
There US soldiers found the camouflaged hole in which Saddam was hiding.

It was 3.15pm Washington time when Donald Rumsfeld called George W Bush at
Camp David. “Mr President, first reports are not always accurate,” he began.
“But we think we may have him.”

First reports – indeed the very first report of Saddam’s capture – were also
coming out elsewhere. Jalal Talabani chose to leak the news and details of
Rasul Ali’s role in the deployment to the Iranian media and to be
interviewed by them.

By early Sunday – way before Saddam’s capture was being reported by the
mainstream Western press – the Kurdish media ran the following news wire:

“Saddam Hussein, the former President of the Iraqi regime, was captured by
the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. A special intelligence unit led by Qusrat
Rasul Ali, a high-ranking member of the PUK, found Saddam Hussein in the
city of Tikrit, his birthplace. Qusrat’s team was accompanied by a group of
US soldiers. Further details of the capture will emerge during the day; but
the global Kurdish party is about to begin!”

By the time Western press agencies were running the same story, the emphasis
had changed, and the ousted Iraqi president had been “captured in a raid by
US forces backed by Kurdish fighters.”

Rasul Ali himself, meanwhile, had already been on air at the Iranian
satellite station al-Alam insisting that his “PUK fighters sealed the area
off before the arrival of the US forces”.

By late Sunday as the story went global, the Kurdish role was reduced to a
supportive one in what was described by the Pentagon and US military
officials as a “joint operation”. The Americans now somewhat reluctantly
were admitting that PUK fighters were on the ground alongside them , while
PUK sources were making more considered statements and playing down their
precise role.

So just who did get to Saddam first, the Kurds or the Americans? And if
indeed it was a joint operation would it have been possible at all without
the intelligence and on-the-ground participation of Rasul Ali and his
special forces?

If the PUK themselves pulled off Saddam’s capture, there would be much to
gain from taking the $25m bounty and any political guarantees the Americans
might reward them with to keep schtum. What’s more, Jalal Talabani’s links
to Tehran have always worried Washington, and having his party grab the
grand prize from beneath their noses would be awkward to say the least.

“It’s mutually worth it to us and the Americans. We need assurances for the
future and they need the kudos of getting Saddam,” admitted a Kurdish source
on condition of anonymity. It would be all to easy to dismiss the questions
surrounding the PUK role as conspiracy theory. After all, almost every major
event that affects the Arab world prompts tales that are quickly woven into
intricate shapes and patterns, to demonstrate innocence, seek credit or
apportion blame. Saddam’s capture is no exception.

Of the numerous and more exotic theories surrounding events leading to
Saddam’s arrest, one originates on a website many believe edited by former
Israeli intelligence agents, but which often turns up inside information
about the Middle East that proves to be accurate.

According to, there is a possibility that Saddam was held for up
to three weeks in al-Dwar by a Kurdish splinter group while they negotiated
a handover to the Americans in return for the $25m reward. This, the writers
say would explain his dishevelled and disorientated appearance.

But perhaps the mother of all conspiracy theories, is the one about the
pictures distributed by the Americans showing the hideout with a palm tree
behind the soldier who uncov ered the hole where Saddam was hiding. The palm
carried a cluster of pre-ripened yellow dates, which might suggest that
Saddam was arrested at least three months earlier, because dates ripen in
the summer when they turn into their black or brown colour.

Those who buy into such an explanation conclude that Saddam’s capture was
stage-managed and his place of arrest probably elsewhere. All fanciful
stuff. But as is so often the case, the real chain of events is likely to be
far more mundane.

In the end serious questions remain about the Kurdish role and whether at
last Sunday’s Baghdad press conference, Paul Bremer was telling the whole
truth . Or is it a case of “ladies and gentlemen we got him,” – with a
little more help from our Kurdish friends than might be politically
expedient to admit?

21 December 2003

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