US and Curdish forces launched a raid on a farmstead 15 km. south of Tikrit last night, affirming that Saddam was among a group of people captured in and near a cellar.
Downing Street confirmed the capture first, while the White House was more cautious, stating that there were “strong indications” that the capture had been made.
US and Curdish forces launched an attack against the farmstead at 20.30 local time on Saturday night. Ahmed Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress, declared to the press that the capture had been made. It is possible that the 25 million USD prize-money had led someone to give the whereabouts away.
Regarding the international sources, Sky News went straight to the matter, quoting Downing Street, while CNN spoke of “unconfirmed reports”.
The President of the Governing Council of Iraq, Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim, confirmed that DNA tests had revealed the identity of the prisoner, a statement quoted by the BBC.
Reuters, which communicated the news to President Bush last night, quotes as its source Nazem Dabag, a spokesperson of the PUK (Curdish Patriotic Front), while Iran’s IRNA quoted the leader of the PUK, Jalal Talabani, who stated that US military sources had stated that Saddam Hussein had been captured last night.
Meanwhile, these forces did not confirm or deny the reports.
In the Russian Federation, RIA Novosti quoted Downing Street while the other agencies are adopting a “wait and see” approach.
Great expectation was placed on the press conference, which continues in Baghdad, at which Paul Bremer, White House administrator of Iraq, opened his declarations with the sentence “Ladies and Gentlemen, we got him!” confirming that DNA tests had proven the identity of Saddam Hussein.
However, as usual with Washington’s declarations, there are a number of anomalies. First, why would Saddam Hussein allow himself to be taken alive? Secondly, it was declared that the prisoner was wearing a false beard by the captors, then at the news conference it was stated that he had been shaven.
Certainly the photograph supposed to be the captured Saddam after shaving reveals a face far younger than the haggard man of almost 70 that Saddam Hussein would be. This revelation comes at a time when Washington is facing violent hostilities in Iraq and the possibility that this news would bring a truce would be more than welcome.
Is this Saddam? Is it one of the famous doubles?
Unfortunately these days the declarations of the “truth” by Washington must be taken with a great dose of skepticism. Whoever believes blindly what Washington says also believes that there are goblins at the end of the garden.