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"We Got Him!" -- Saddam Hussein Captured!

By Sefany Jones, Contributing Editor
Sunday, December 14, 2003 @ 4:26 AM


Iraqui Tyrant Saddam Hussein

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From CNN:

TIKRIT, Iraq (CNN) -- U.S. forces have captured Saddam HusseIn in a late night raid in his hometown, according to the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority.

"Ladies and gentleman, we got him," L. Paul Bremer announced Sunday. The announcement was greeted with cheers from the audience.

In Washington, a military official told CNN there's "a high degree of confidence" that the prisoner -- wearing a fake beard when captured, according to Iraqi officials -- is in fact Saddam.

In London, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said without qualification that Saddam has been captured, and the president of the Iraqi Governing Council said in Madrid that a positive identification was made through DNA tests.

A U.S. military official in Washington said he was unaware of DNA results, but said that scars on the man's body matched wounds that the U.S. believes Saddam would have suffered in past coup attempts.

The official said the man is being shown to former Iraqi leaders in custody at Baghdad's airport to complete the identification process.

He was captured, the official said, with little or no resistance along with a small group of aides.

A senior U.S. official told CNN's Dana Bash in Washington that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told President Bush Saturday afternoon (EST) of the likely capture.

Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim, president of the Iraqi Governing Council, said Sunday at a joint news conference with Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio, that the man was in a basement and wearing a fake beard when he was captured.

Hours after the word leaked out on the possible capture, there were volleys of celebratory gunfire and people honking their car horns in Baghdad.

The raid was based on intelligence that Saddam was at a particular location in the area, the officials said.

Video following that raid -- exclusively shot by CNN's Alphonso Van Marsh -- showed a group of U.S.-led coalition soldiers patting each other on the back -- apparently in celebration -- and taking group photos in front of a military vehicle.

The 66-year-old longtime Iraqi leader was number one on the coalition's 55 most wanted list, and his evasion has been a political sore spot for the U.S. administration.

U.S. troops celebrate in Tikrit, after a raid that captured a man believed to be Saddam Hussein. The Iraq war began on March 19 when U.S. forces launched a "decapitation attack" aimed at the Iraqi president and other top members of the country's leadership.

Hours later, a defiant Saddam wearing a military uniform appeared on Iraqi television to denounce the U.S.-led military campaign as "criminal" and to say his countrymen would be victorious.

At least a dozen audiotapes believed to have been recorded by Saddam, 66, have been released since he was forced out of power by the coalition forces during the Iraq war. The most recent was broadcast in November.

His sons Uday and Qusay -- also on the coalition's most wanted list -- were killed in July, after U.S. forces stormed their hideout in Mosul.

Initial hopes that their father would soon be found faded in the months following that raid.

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the commander of U.S. ground forces in Iraq, has been dogged by reporters wanting to know the status of the search for Saddam.

"It is difficult to find him," Sanchez said, at a press briefing earlier this month. "Given that I haven't found him killed him or captured him, and I need the Iraqi people's help, and together we will find him, we will capture him, we will kill him."

The announcement comes on the same day that 20 people were killed and 32 wounded by a car bomb outside an Iraqi police station west of Baghdad, an Iraqi police officer told CNN.

Sixteen policemen were among those killed in Sunday's explosion at Khaldiyah, 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the Iraqi capital, the officer added.


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