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Was Saddam betrayed by his wife?
Shyam Bhatia in London |
December 16, 2003 15:14 IST
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Saddam Hussein now has first hand experience.
At least that is the opinion of some Iraqi exiles who are debating how Saddam's hiding place was discovered near his home town of Tikrit by US forces.
The consensus among some exiles, who do not wish to be identified, is that Saddam's first wife, Sajida, currently living in Jordan, leaked key information to the Americans about where her husband was likely to be hiding.
Sajida's motivation, according to some Iraqis, was that she was dumped by her husband for a younger woman, Samira, who escaped to Beirut with US $ 5 million in cash and a chest full of gold bars that Saddam gave her as a parting gift.
It is Saddam's devotion to this younger wife, and the mother of his only surviving son, Ali, that prompted Sajida to turn on her husband.
She has other reasons as well to seek revenge. Her two daughters, Raghed and Rana, were left widowed after their husbands were killed on Saddam's instructions.
The crime committed by the two men, Hussein and Saddam Kamil, was an attempt to defect to Jordan in a bid to escape the murderous intrigues of Saddam's inner circle and offer themselves as alternative leaders.
When the two men went back to Baghdad and begged forgiveness after Sajida promised them safe conduct, Saddam ignored his wife's promise and had both men shot.
It may be years before the Americans confirm the identity of the woman or man who betrayed Saddam and who is now entitled to the US $25 million reward promised by President George W Bush.
Meanwhile, senior US military officials are congratulating themselves on the intelligence re-think earlier this year that set them on the right road to finding Saddam.
Until last July the the US officials believed that the arrest of senior members of the Saddam administration, men like former deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz and information minister Saeed Al-Sahaf, would help to track Saddam
and his missing weapons of mass destruction.
When that didn't happen the new US commander for the Middle East, General John P Abizaid, ordered a change of intelligence gathering tactics that led to the tapping of lower level members of the disbanded Baa'th Party who were able to supply vital information about what happened to Saddam and his henchmen after the fall of Baghdad.
It was this information from previously ignored sources that led to the cornering last July of Saddam's two older sons, Uday and Qusay, who were killed in a gun battle in Mosul.
Improved intelligence also provided the vital backdrop to three successful military operations -- code named Peninsula Strike, Desert Scorpion and Soda Mountain -- launched against Saddam loyalists operating in the Sunni triangle north of Baghdad.
One key discovery post July was that so-called guerrilla operatives were being funded by huge sums of money that Saddam had set aside for emergency use.
Cash was also the key to persuading some Iraqi families to shelter members of the deposed regime.
Whether such bribes will work any more for any remaining fugitives now that Saddam has been captured, is an open question. Meanwhile the guessing game continues about which Iraqi - woman or man - will be $ 25 million richer by this