1st Battalion 22nd Infantry

 

BREAKING NEWS

(Editor's note: Beginning with the July/August update, this website will post only
1st Battalion 22nd Infantry updates. Regrettably, time and space prevent us from continuing coverage of updates for the entire 4th Division.)

 

July / August - 2003

 

 

Book drive for 4th ID soldiers seeks help with mailing costs
by Debbie Stevenson
Herald Staff Writer

August 28, 2003

When the word went out in July about plans to start a library for 4th Infantry Division troops in Iraq, one soldier's mom in Illinois responded.

Michelle Lee contacted Lesley Dempsey, who had conceived the idea in Killeen after a successful drive for golf equipment, and Books For Our Troops was born.

For Lee, the work to help start the library in Tikrit has given her something to focus on while her son, 19-year-old Pfc. Eric Lee, remains in Iraq with A Company, 1st Battalion, 22 Infantry Regiment.

"Being a mom in Illinois, you're kind of out of the loop," the Crystal Lake, Ill., resident said. "I pretty much made myself in the loop.

"It's definitely given me a purpose," she said. "I'm putting a lot of energy into it."

It didn't take long for Lee to be swamped with paperback book donations from members of this affluent Chicago-area commuter town.

Lee said she enlisted the help of her younger son, 18-year-old Tony Lee to help with packing up the books. Warrant Officer-1 Ben Dempsey, who had been tasked with raising morale, received the first shipment in Tikrit, his wife told Lee.

"Within two minutes, the soldiers had grabbed the books," Lee said.

Lee mailed about three more boxes when the drive hit a financial roadblock.

The expense, about $25 to $30 for a small 12- by 12-inch box, became prohibitive for Lee.

"I have probably 25 boxes packed and ready to go," she said. "I still have people dropping off books."

With limited funds in a special account at the local bank left to ship the books, Lee turned to the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce for help.

Bob Blazier, the chamber's president, came up with a package sponsorship plan that would allow businesses to sponsor the cost of mailing a box to Fort Hood for shipment to Iraq.

"I think that would appeal more," Blazier said.

With 1,000 chamber members, Blazier said he believes the response will be strong when he makes the plea in his biweekly column to the local newspaper.

Blazier said businesses in the Killeen area that want to adopt a book package can contact the Crystal Lake chamber at (815) 459-1300 or send their request to Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce, 427 Virginia St., Crystal Lake, IL 60014.

Contributions to cover shipping expenses, such as package tape, also can be sent to Books for our Troops, c/o Home State Bank, 40 Grant St., Crystal Lake, IL 60014.

 

 

U.S. Raids Capture 7 Suspects in Iraq



HRVOJE HRANJSKI
Associated Press

TIKRIT, Iraq - American forces captured seven men - two of them Saddam Hussein loyalists and five believed responsible for attacks on American troops - during raids in the deposed leader's hometown, the military reported Monday.

No U.S. troops were hurt in the raids that resulted in the capture of seven men in Tikrit, 120 miles north of Baghdad, according to the 4th Infantry Division 1st Battalion 22nd Regiment, which conducted the searches.

The military said the captured men and some still being sought were suspected of organizing regional cells of the Fedayeen Saddam, the militia loyal to Saddam and believed spearheading the guerrilla war against U.S. occupation forces. The military gave no identities.

Early Monday, two Iraqis were wounded when their vehicle attempted to avoid a U.S. checkpoint near Kirkuk, Aberle said. The soldiers manning the checkpoint opened fire and disabled the vehicle, she said. The Iraqis were being treated and were detained. Their wounds were not serious, she said.

An American soldier told an AP reporter Monday that the Republican Bridge over the Tigris River in central Baghdad had been closed for an hour Sunday night after U.S. forces discovered a bomb. He refused to give any other details......

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Some U.S. Soldiers in Iraq Seek Baptisms



By HRVOJE HRANJSKI

.c The Associated Press

TIKRIT, Iraq (AP) - With war and death on his mind, Spc. Barry Page was baptized Sunday in the Tigris River by an Army chaplain at the sprawling U.S. military headquarters on the fabled river's banks.

A Southern Baptist working as a military policeman, Page said he decided to ``reannounce his life to Christ'' in the birthplace of civilization.

``I realized death is walking in this place,'' said the 22-year-old from Houston, his uniform and boots soaking wet. ``It can be any of us. Next time it could be me.''

The temperature was 120 as Page and three other soldiers waited outside one of Saddam Hussein's palatial complexes to take their turn in the water. The baptism took place behind the palace, where the river waters surround an artificial island overgrown with palm trees.

``This ground has a historical, biblical meaning,'' Page said. ``I can say I was in the same waters. I'm glad I found peace with God.''

Each of the soldiers took careful steps into the arms of Army chaplain Capt. Xuan Tran, of the 4th Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 22nd Regiment. Waist deep in the river, Tran briefly submerged the soldiers, recited a verse from the Bible, and proclaimed ``Amen'' three times.

Corporal Christian Gaspard, 24, from Baton Rouge, La., said he was baptized before but did it again Sunday because ``he didn't live like a Christian.''

The father of a 3-year-old daughter said his pregnant wife was expecting another child in September, when he hopes to be home.

Tran said he was always happy ``to have soldiers dedicating themselves to God.''

``Some have done it before, others are doing for the first time,'' Tran said.

He said the reasons vary from being in a war situation to rediscovering their faith.

``For many of them, they are away from their wives and children, and they have time to think and rededicate themselves to God,'' he said.

In the last few weeks, Tran said he baptized at least 16 soldiers.

Since the troops of the 4th Infantry seized Saddam's hometown in May, they have come under increasing attacks by Iraqi guerrillas firing rocket-propelled grenades and laying homemade bombs. Soldiers detain Saddam loyalists virtually every night, seize caches of weapons and ammunition and conduct round-the-clock patrols of the tense streets of Tikrit, the former president's hometown.
  
08/24/03 17:16 EDT
Copyright 2003 The Associated Press.

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No go for ‘Saddam Elvis’ posters



Pentagon nixes colonel’s idea to flush out his supporters

NBC’s James Hattori reports. Update from Iraq - various sources 8-12-03 Update from Iraq - various sources 8-12-03Update from Iraq - various sources 8-12-03Update from Iraq - various sources 8-12-03Update from Iraq - various sources 8-12-03Update from Iraq -
NBC NEWS AND NEWS SERVICES

Aug. 18 —  U.S. military officials told NBC News that posters of Saddam Hussein dressed as celebrities such as Elvis Presley and Zsa Zsa Gabor will not be posted in Saddam’s hometown in an effort to flush out his supporters.
“We're going to do something devious with these,” a chuckling Lt. Col. Steve Russell said last week, as he checked out a range of spoof Saddam pictures taken from the Internet.
       “Most of the locals will love ‘em and they’ll be laughing,” he said according to a Reuters report. “But the bad guys are going to be upset, which will just make it easier for us to know who they are.”
      But the military officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the computer-crafted posters were never officially sanctioned and that troops were being told to stop producing the images.
       Central Command has produced images of Saddam in various disguises.
       Those images can be found online at the
Central command website.
      
LOOKING FOR BAIT
      Russell, whose 1st Battalion, 22nd Regiment is spearheading the 4th Infantry Division’s search for the deposed leader, reportedly had hoped to have the posters slapped up on walls around Tikrit from Monday.
Apparently intimidated by the U.S. Army’s heavy presence around town, more and more guerrillas are stashing their weapons and keeping a low profile, U.S. commanders say.
       U.S. forces are trying to flush them out and hunt them while they can.
       One tactic Russell and his team uses is to make themselves the bait. On most nights, Humvees packed with soldiers will drive up and down what has been dubbed “RPG Alley” to try to attract fire from locals armed with rocket-propelled grenades.
       While that has had some success in recent weeks, Russell turned to the poster campaign to see if he could taunt Saddam loyalists into showing their faces.
      Officers from the 4th Infantry’s psychological operations unit say it is not necessarily a bad idea, although they tend to favor more subtle leaflet drops.
“It’s mostly good for troop morale, but if we can put these posters up in Tikrit and the enemy can’t take them down, then at least it shows who owns the streets,” said Sgt. David Cade, a psychological operations specialist.
      
OFFENSIVE STRATEGY?
       Yet while the posters might have helped divide locals into the amused and the infuriated, they also ran a serious risk of stoking fury among ordinary Iraqis who may not be pro-Saddam but still will not accept the idea of the Americans poking fun.
       One of the posters showed Saddam’s head on Elvis’s dancing body, a gold crucifix hanging around his hairy chest.
       Given fears in the Arab world that the invasion of Iraq was akin to a Christian crusade, some Iraqis say U.S. forces would do well to think twice about leaving the cross hanging around Saddam Elvis’s neck.
      “Maybe it is funny for the soldiers, but I think most locals will find it very insulting,” said Uday, a 22-year-old working as a translator at the U.S. Army base in Tikrit.

**********************

 


4th ID soldiers shut down major bomb-making plant

By HRVOJE HRANJSKI
August 17, 2003
The Associated Press

TIKRIT, Iraq — U.S. troops shut down a major bomb factory near Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit on Sunday and arrested two people in connection with bombing activities here, a U.S. Army commander said.

In a raid on a village north of Tikrit, troops from the 4th Infantry Division seized C-4 plastic explosives, plastic caps, detonation switches and fragmentation shrapnel used in bombs, said Lt. Col. Steve Russell, commander of the 4th Infantry's 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment.

"We definitely shut down a major operational and bombing site," Russell told The Associated Press. "There are still individuals we are looking for."

Also seized in Sunday's raid was a 60mm mortar, seven rounds of ammunition, three grenades and four AK-47 rifles, he said. No shots were fired, there was no resistance from those detained and there were no U.S. casualties, he said.

"Soldiers are still at the scene searching the area," he said.

Saddam loyalists and remnants of the former regime have been using homemade bombs, often detonated remotely, against U.S. patrols and convoys. On Aug. 5, three 4th Infantry soldiers were killed in one such attack. Troops have been discovering improvised explosive devices almost every day, increasingly with the help of the local population, military officials said.

Russell said the troops in Sunday's raid acted on a tip from residents, calling the cooperation "a very good sign."

He said the weapons and ammunition were hidden in trash pits on a field next to a residential complex, and the explosive was seized in houses.

The exact location of the raid and identities of those detained were not immediately identified.

AP-WS-08-17-03 1125EDT

**********************

Fort Hood officer leads effort to find Saddam Hussein

By Debbie Stevenson
Killeen Daily Herald
http://www.kdhnews.com/index.html

August 17, 2003


When Cindy Russell sees her husband these days, it is usually during television news segments, newspaper photos or on the Internet.

Cindy's husband, Lt. Col. Steve Russell, has become the man of the month as his 4th Infantry Division battalion leads the U.S. charge to find ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

The Del City, Okla., native attributes the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment's lead role to geography, noting simply that they are operating around Tikrit. Saddam's former hometown has become the center of the hunt in recent weeks for the ousted dictator, who is believed to be on the run, moving every three to four hours.

"If he is here, we will certainly take any information that leads us to him," said Russell during a recent interview from Iraq. "I am confident we will continue to erode his support so he can be caught."

As part of that quest, Russell's Fort Hood troops have conducted almost nightly raids, including one sweep last week on the outskirts of Tikrit that netted two key members of the former dictator's Republican Guard. A Fedayeen Saddam militia paymaster also reportedly was captured.

"They were trying to support the remnants of the former regime by organizing attacks, through funding and by trying to hide former regime members," Russell told the Associated Press on Tuesday.

While most of the spotlight has focused on Russell since he took command June 11, Russell would prefer his men receive the accolades.

"I'm very proud of our men," he said. "They're superb soldiers. I'm very honored if they are in the news. They deserve it."

Russell said there are almost daily heroics that go unnoticed.

"I think there are a couple of soldiers who just epitomize the type of men we have, along with some great women in our support company."

Some examples, Russell said, include Pvt. Joshua M. Schoellman from B Company, who was injured in a July 4 attack.

"When his Bradley (fighting vehicle) struck a mine, he was injured," said Russell, noting the blast broke both of Schoellman's legs and fractured his arms. "Yet, the first thing he did was hit the fuel shutoff valves and lowered the ramp to let the men out."

Russell said the soldiers helped the trapped driver from the vehicle.

"He is recovering well from his wounds," Russell said.

In another incident, Russell said Spc. Claude J. Goodwin from a reconnaissance platoon was wounded when a powerful bomb exploded beneath his Humvee.

The blast blew out the tires and shattered the windshield, Russell said. Two other soldiers also were wounded in the blast, which was followed by small-arms fire.

"He put the vehicle in low gear and got it into the aid station and basically drove himself and his buddies to the treatment station," Russell said.

"That's the kind of soldiers that we have," he added.

Russell said his leadership style puts him out on the lines with his men and has given him and his driver, Spc. Cody L. Hoefer, their own moments of truth.

One of them came July 23, a day after the deaths of Saddam's sons, Uday and Qusay.

"We saw the enemy become very active," Russell said, speculating in an e-mail account of the evening that the deaths during a firefight with the 101st Airborne Division had ignited "hatred and anger."

After investigating a possible robbery, Russell said he and his driver returned to their convoy when a loud blast was heard at the location they had just left.

"A four-man Fedayeen unit shot at our company," Russell said.

Detouring through the back streets, Russell caught sight of the attackers, he described as "armed to the teeth" in a white pickup as it fishtailed around a corner toward them.

"My driver cut them off with our vehicle," Russell said. "He got out firing, cutting down the man exiting the passenger side."

When the shooting stopped, Russell had killed the driver and a man in the back. Hoefer had taken out the fourth occupant.

Russell said it was learned later that the men were the sons of bodyguards of Saddam or his relatives.

In the frequent attacks that night, three of Russell's soldiers were wounded. Two have since returned to duty. The third is expected to follow suit.

"I try not to place myself in unwarranted danger," Russell said. "But I don't know how else to lead men. But I try not to get in their way."

The man behind the headlines is a father of five children who are awaiting his return next year to their home in Harker Heights. His mother, Donna Skidgel, lives in Midwest City, Okla., and his father, Gene Russell, is an Oklahoma City resident.

His oldest daughter, 14-year-old Jessica, and youngest child, 8-year-old Hannah, are the couple's biological children. Their three siblings, Matthew, 11, Chris, 9 and Patricia, 8, were adopted in June 2000.

The Del City High School graduate said he married the former Cindy Myers 17 years ago after they met at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark., where he was majoring in speech on a four-year Army scholarship.

He was commissioned after his graduation in 1985 and has since earned a master's degree in history, Cindy said.

"I am very proud of him," Cindy said in a statement. "I am confident that the Lord has him in Iraq for a reason and is using him for his will."

Born May 25, 1963, Russell turned 40 shortly after his arrival at Saddam's palace in Tikrit.

Since then, the oppressive heat and grueling 16- to 20-hour schedules have not lessened Russell's resolve to complete the mission.

"All of the reasons that brought us over here in March are just as valid today," he said. "We are hurting (the enemy), and they are desperate."

Calling on his faith to help him, Russell said the men live by their motto: "Regulars by God."

"We certainly feel near to him here," said Russell, urging continued support for the troops in Iraq.

"We know that we have the support (of the nation)," he said. "We can never lose that support. It means more to us than you know."



Contact Debbie Stevenson at deborah@kdhnews.com

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August 8, 2003 - An Excerpt from an MSNBC online report:

        .......In Tikrit, U.S. forces continued efforts to stamp out resistance by staging a raid on a market.
       Women ran screaming as shots rang out, witnesses said. A man who was unloading AK-47 assault rifles from the trunk of a red sedan fell to the ground, according to a witness who was selling biscuits.
      U.S. forces had positioned snipers around the market after hearing that weapons and ammunition were sold every Friday, said Lt. Col. Steve Russell, whose 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Battalion, executed the operation.
       “When people pick up weapons and carrying them freely, they become combatants and we will engage them,” Russell said. “I think we sent out a strong message today that you cannot walk around the streets with weapons.”

       Hundreds of residents watched from across the road as soldiers examined the scene and Iraqi police removed a dead body covered in a black-and-white kaffiyah headscarf near the center of the market. Soldiers said he was shot as he tried to flee with an AK-47.
       Beside the red car, about 10 yards away, the earth was soaked with blood at the spot where Russell said one of the alleged arms dealers was shot in the head as he unloaded three to four rifles. Soldiers showed reporters an ID card bearing the dead man’s photo that was issued by Saddam Hussein’s regime as a sign of privilege for supporters of the ousted regime.
       Curved AK-47 cartridge clips lay carefully stacked in fours on a series of seven plastic tarps laid out in the dust behind the car. A tangle of red-and-blue wires and a crude bomb lay on one of the tarps.
       One of the wounded men escaped, while the other was being treated for injuries at a nearby hospital, Russell said.

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Pneumonia low among troops' fears

 

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) August 7, 2003

-- U.S. forces in Iraq say they're more concerned about guerrilla attacks and the heat than about a pneumonia outbreak that has killed two soldiers and sent more than a dozen to Europe for medical care.

In Washington, military health care experts say they have issued new guidelines to fight the illness, but more than a dozen soldiers interviewed Wednesday by The Associated Press in Baghdad and Tikrit said they haven't seen them.

"That's news to me," said Staff Sgt. Julian Oliver, 28. "They have put out nothing on it."

He and six other soldiers manned a checkpoint on the 14th of July Bridge in the capital, Baghdad.

"I don't know how it's possible to get pneumonia in this heat," said Oliver, of New York City, sweat streaming down his face. "There is more danger out there for me and my soldiers than pneumonia."

More than 100 soldiers on duty in Iraq have been infected with pneumonia since March 1, according to Col. Guy Shields, a top military spokesman in Baghdad. Fourteen of the cases were serious enough to merit evacuation to a military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany. Shields said nine have recovered and three remain hospitalized.

The soldiers who talked to AP said they were more worried about the near daily guerrilla attacks and avoiding heat stroke than pneumonia, an inflammation of the lungs that can be triggered by a variety of bacteria and viruses.

Capt. Alex Morales, 39, a medic with the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment in Tikrit, said soldiers have heard about the outbreak, but have more important worries.

"It's not that pneumonia isn't important. It's just not high on our radar screen," said Morales, of New York City, adding attacks against soldiers by rocket-propelled grenades and homemade bombs were "more real."

Morales said the Army has sent out special forms to track new cases of pneumonia.

Military officials in Washington advised the nearly 160,000 troops in Iraq to take precautions against pneumonia by avoiding dehydration in temperatures that have topped 120 degrees and avoiding the omnipresent dust by wearing masks.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

 

 

Troops arrest Saddam's ex-bodyguard

By DREW BROWN and HANNAH ALLAM
Knight Ridder Newspapers July 29, 2003

TIKRIT, Iraq - American troops nabbed one of Saddam Hussein's top bodyguards in a pre-dawn raid on Tuesday near Saddam's hometown of Tikrit, raising hopes that U.S. forces may be closing in on the fallen dictator.

Troops arrested Adnan Abdullah Abid al Musslit, described as a former bodyguard who Saddam pressed back into service before the war in Iraq began last March. Other raids around Tikrit, north of Baghdad, by the Army's 4th Infantry Division netted 28 other people, including Daher Ziana, the former head of security in Tikrit, and Rafa Idham Ibrahim al Hassan, a leader of the Saddam Fedayeen militia.

"We think we are tightening the noose on the former regime," said Lt. Col. Bill MacDonald, the 4th Infantry's public affairs officer. "Right now, there are a lot of units out there, and if any of the top 55 (most wanted) are out there, we are going to find them."

Hours after the arrests, another audiotape purportedly by Saddam was broadcast on al Arabiya, an Arabic-language satellite news network. It was the third such tape in two weeks but the first since U.S. troops killed Saddam's sons, Odai, 39, and Qusai, 37, last week in a raid on a house in Mosul.

The voice on the tape urged continued attacks on U.S. forces in northern cities such as Mosul, which he called "the city of the spears." The man praised his sons, Odai and Qusai, as martyrs who staved off U.S. forces until they died "an honorable death."

"They fought a very strong fight with the enemy, which took six hours and the American army could not get to them," the man said. "If you thought you killed Odai and Qusai, all the youths in the nation are Odai and Qusai."

In Baghdad, the Governing Council, 25 men and women assembled by U.S. officials to represent a cross section of Iraqis, voted for a nine-person presidential panel at an all-day closed meeting in Baghdad, after failing to agree on a single president. Members will meet again Wednesday to iron out details about how the panel will work.

Ahmed al Mukhtar, spokesman for the Council, said members were happy with the panel, but that it was not meant to substitute for a leader chosen by Iraqis.

"This is just interim," he said. "A true, sovereign Iraqi president will be elected."

So far, U.S. and coalition troops have captured or killed 37 of the 55-most wanted members of the former Iraqi regime.

"We are going to continue to go after former regime members, Fedayeen and anyone else who's out there and who's trying to stop our rebuilding and security efforts," MacDonald said. "We have to show people that the former regime is not coming back."

After killing Odai and Qusai last week, U.S. troops have focused increasingly on Tikrit and its environs in their efforts to hunt down the fugitive former dictator and his remaining cronies.

"This is Saddam's backyard," said MacDonald, noting that many of the top figures in the Baath Party's Revolutionary Command Council and the former Iraqi military and intelligence services were staffed heavily by Saddam's relatives and associates from Tikrit.

But Nida al Nida, the oldest son of Sheik Mahmoud al Nida, the leader of Saddam's Albo-Nasser tribe, said he doubts that Saddam would be hiding in Tikrit or its suburb of al Owja, the deposed dictator's ancestral village.

"It's not in his nature to seek refuge with his relatives or people he knows," al Nida, 25, said. "We don't believe he is here. There are too many coalition forces here."

Al Nida described al Owja as "the calmest city in Iraq," and said that most people in the village, which features wide boulevards and streetlights, evidence of the wealth Saddam showered on his hometown, support the presence of U.S. troops.

"If they were not here, then maybe the people of Iraq would be killing each other," he said.

But some people in the Tikrit area support the former regime and are providing shelter to its fugitive members. Thirteen men, including members of Saddam's security detail, were captured last week in Tikrit.

The attacks on U.S. troops have increased since Odai and Qusai were killed. Most have occurred in an area known as the "Sunni Triangle," populated largely by members of Iraq's Sunni Muslim minority, which stretches from Baghdad to Mosul in the north and west to the Jordanian border.

In total, 164 U.S. soldiers have been killed in combat in Iraq, 17 more than the 1991 Gulf War. At least 15 have died in the last 10 days, making July the bloodiest month for U.S. forces in Iraq since major combat ended.

In Tikrit, soldiers say they see no sign that attacks against them are slowing. Every night, the soldiers say, they face mortar barrages on their camps and positions, assaults on buildings with rocket-propelled grenades and drive-by shootings with automatic weapons. Even so, casualties in the area remain low. So far, only four 4th Infantry Division soldiers have been killed by hostile fire, MacDonald said.

Standing on a sizzling sidewalk outside a downtown Tikrit government building guarded by U.S. troops, Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Spruill, 34 of Elizabeth City, N.C., said the town, which by day appears relatively quiet, changes into a free-fire zone once the sun goes down.

"During the day, it's all friendly," said Spruill, scanning cars as they pass, his M-4 rifle at the ready, in case trouble erupted. "But the ones who wave at you during the day are the same ones who have the RPGs (rocket propelled grenades) out at night."

About 15 miles south of Tikrit, U.S. soldiers narrowly averted an ambush after engineers in a convoy spotted a makeshift roadside bomb, which has become a favored weapon of Iraqi insurgents. The engineers spotted the bomb before the convoy came abreast of it, and while other troops secured the surrounding area, they managed to detonate it in a controlled explosion before anyone was hurt.

"Fortunately, it didn't go off, " said 1st Lt. Andrew Camp, 25, of Anaheim, Calif., as he and other soldiers manned a checkpoint while the engineers blew up the device.

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U.S. general says Saddam on the run and in disguise

By Alastair Macdonald

TIKRIT, Iraq, Aug 7 (Reuters) - The U.S. general leading the hunt for Saddam Hussein around the fugitive ex-dictator's home town said on Thursday that Saddam was on the run, wearing a disguise and moving frequently to evade American patrols.

"He's on the run. He's moving every three to four hours," Major General Ray Odierno told a news conference at the 4th Infantry Division headquarters in one of Saddam's lavish former palaces by the banks of the River Tigris in Tikrit.

"He is clearly moving three to four times in a single day," Odierno said, citing intelligence reports. "My guess is he's in disguise some way, in unassuming clothes."

The 4th Infantry Division has mounted frequent raids around Tikrit, hunting Saddam loyalists and guerrilla fighters who have killed 53 U.S. soldiers since Washington declared major hostilities over on May 1. A U.S. civilian contractor was also killed by a landmine just north of Tikrit on Tuesday.

Officers in Tikrit said they had seized three suspected guerrilla leaders in night raids early on Thursday.

One man arrested overnight after 39 men were turned out of a workers' hostel, handcuffed and questioned by soldiers may have been a "national-level Fedayeen leader", funding and arming resistance to the U.S. occupation beyond Tikrit itself, raid commander Lieutenant Colonel Steve Russell said.

The man may also be linked to an attempted attack nearby on U.S. forces 24 hours earlier, he said, when troops shot a man who they said was about to fire a rocket-propelled grenade.

The two others were believed to have been generals under Saddam and were detained in separate raids at an undisclosed village south of Tikrit, 170 km (105 miles) north of Baghdad. About a dozen other people there were still being questioned.

NIGHT RAID

In Tikrit, as Abrams tanks and armoured vehicles sealed the area and helicopters clattered overhead in the dark, troops charged up stairways, banging on doors. They made men kneel in the street, heads down and hands cuffed behind their backs with plastic ties. Interpreters handled the flow of questions.

The targeted suspect was taken away blindfolded and the 38 others held at the city hostel were released.

"As we cast a wide net for sharks, we catch dolphins too," Russell said. "And we apologise."

On Wednesday, the 4th Infantry said raids north of Baghdad had netted 18 Saddam loyalists and a large arms cache, and the previous day Iraqi police seized a brother of Adnan Abdullah Abid al-Musslit, a close personal bodyguard of Saddam's family who was himself arrested around Tikrit a week ago.

Washington says it wants to put a democratic Iraqi government in place as soon as possible and then end its widely resented occupation. Last month it appointed a 25-member Iraqi Governing Council as an initial step towards self-rule.

The Council says it plans to set up a committee soon that will oversee the drawing up of a new constitution -- a key precondition for elections. It also plans to name ministers within a week, one of the council members told Reuters.

 

U.S. Nets Four Suspected Iraqi Insurgents

By D'ARCY DORAN, Associated Press Writer August 7, 2003

 

TIKRIT, Iraq - U.S. forces captured a suspected leader of Saddam Hussein's loyalist militia, nicknamed "The Rock," after storming a workers' hostel in a series of raids in Tikrit Thursday that netted four men suspected of plotting attacks, the military said.

The man allegedly organized cells, paid guerrilla fighters and armed them with rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47 assault rifles for attacks on U.S. forces in Saddam's hometown of Tikrit and surrounding areas, said Lt. Col. Steve Russell, commander of the 22nd Infantry Regiment's 1st Battalion, which executed the raids.

Informants told soldiers that he was known as "The Rock" among militiamen, Russell said. He did not give the suspect's proper name.

Two men believed to be former Iraqi generals who organized guerrilla attacks nationwide were also captured in raids in a village south of Tikrit alongside an additional suspected Fedayeen militia ringleader, Russell said. He said he could not name them or say where they were captured.

Each raid increases the pressure on Saddam by triggering a chain reaction of tips leading to operations that further eat away at the remnants of the dictator's support network, Russell said,

"We are eroding all of the support of the former regime and as we continue to do so, it just collapses," he said. "Each raid seems to feed on itself now."

Thursday's raids were the product of a series of tips from residents who told soldiers that the suspects had held a meeting and then helped pinpoint their locations, Russell said.

As Apache attack helicopters circled above, about 100 soldiers backed by four battle tanks, eight Bradley fighting vehicles surrounded the hostel, which was above a block of shops, in the raid witnessed by The Associated Press. They brought 39 men out from the building and neighboring tenements.

Many of the men were shirtless and barefoot as they sat cross legged with their hands tied behind their backs while soldiers interrogated them under flashlight beams before dawn. After finding their target, soldiers released 38 of the men with an apology and a warning.

"If you fight against your government, we will hunt you down and kill you," Russell told the freed men through an interpreter.

The raids came after the U.S. military reported that none of its soldiers were killed in attacks for a fifth straight day. Military combat deaths had been coming almost daily, with 52 U.S. soldiers killed in combat since May 1, when President Bush declared major combat over.

The U.S. military had earlier announced the arrest of another suspected guerrilla organizer. The man, nabbed Tuesday by Iraqi police officers, was the brother of a Saddam bodyguard captured by U.S. forces on July 29, Russell said.

Russell did not identify the man, but said he was the brother of Adnan Abdullah Abid al-Musslit, who was believed to have detailed knowledge of Saddam's hiding places.

Eighteen other suspected guerrillas were arrested in seven raids conducted across north-central Iraq over a 24-hour period ending Wednesday, 4th Infantry spokeswoman Maj. Josslyn Aberle said.

She also said soldiers uncovered a large weapons cache 25 miles northeast of Tikrit, Saddam's hometown, on Sunday. It included two 20-foot missiles, 3,000 mortar rounds, 250 anti-tank rockets and almost 2,000 artillery rounds.

She said an Iraqi informant led soldiers to the cache.

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Raids show how Americans may get Saddam

By Alastair Macdonald



TIKRIT, Iraq, Aug 5 (Reuters) -

Soldiers cram, sweating and excited, into trucks and armoured vehicles as the fierce sun goes down on their barracks compound in central Iraq.

M-16 rifles are primed and checked, heavy machineguns hoisted up for protection. A massive, door-smashing crowbar is passed along and one private lovingly sharpens a bayonet.

"I'm gonna use this baby," he grins. As the convoy surges out into darkening open countryside, the banter on one U.S. raiding party this week was all about killing Saddam Hussein -- though officers insist the goal is to take him alive.

The targets for the troops on this occasion were lower level loyalists organising resistance to the U.S. occupation around Saddam's home town of Tikrit. But this may be what it will look like if the fugitive dictator is finally cornered.

Saddam, if tracked down, will get much the same treatment, officers say, as minor figures caught or killed so far.

"We're doing the same thing for a base hit as high-value targets," said Major Troy Smith of the 4th Infantry Division in Tikrit, mixing his baseball and military jargon.

As demonstrated last month when Saddam's sons Uday and Qusay were betrayed and trapped in a house in Mosul, further north, that could mean a very swift deployment of hundreds of troops with armoured vehicles, helicopters and assault jets.

"We are ready to mount one of these raids within minutes, within hours," said Colonel James Hickey, commander of the 4th Infantry's 1st Brigade, which controls the Tikrit area.

Special forces from the secretive Saddam-hunting unit Task Force 20 would also certainly be present, officers say. These are the stubbly, tough men in scruffy civilian clothes who show up from time to time in barracks around Tikrit, saying nothing.

TAKING NO CHANCES

The snap raid this week by one of the brigade's battalions, 1-22 Infantry, involved 300 ground troops with heavily armed Bradley fighting vehicles backed by helicopters and storming at dusk through dusty farm lanes to surround several houses.

Lumbering out in body armour and night-vision helmets, they rounded up startled occupants at gunpoint and were clearly ready to shoot at the first sign of any resistance. In fact, the soldiers returned from that mission largely empty-handed.

But the commander, Lieutenant Colonel Steve Russell, said he was taking no chances with increasingly desperate men with a history of gunplay in a country awash with heavy weapons.

"As you continue to close the room, you just don't know what you're going to face," Russell said after the raid.

Uday and Qusay had a bodyguard, Qusay's teenage son and some Kalashnikov rifles that wounded four Americans. They went down in a storm of anti-tank missiles. A-10 tankbuster aircraft had been on hand to help out, the leader of that mission said.

Though the official account of the deaths of Saddam's sons may throw some doubt on just how great Washington's preference is for capturing over killing the fugitives, it seems to bear out the confidence of commanders on the ground in Tikrit that the tactical decisions on any firefight will be down to them.

Both the Pentagon and the top U.S. general in Baghdad said the approach used at Mosul was the work of the commander on the spot. Colleagues in Tikrit say they would call the shots too if -- they prefer "when" -- they track down Saddam.

"I always act on my own initiative," said 1st Brigade's Hickey of his standing orders. "I am prepared to kill or capture any high-ranking member of the regime."

The stealthy gathering of intelligence and positioning of discreet special forces troops around where Saddam may be hiding could well be followed by the deafening growl of heavy armour being brought up, then the muttering of rifle-cocking infantrymen piling out of trucks to seal the perimeter.

Those out storming farmhouses this week had some focused goals, whatever their officers say: "Sure we want to kill Saddam," yelled one sergeant. "Sooner we do, sooner we go home."

  
08/05/03 09:15 ET
   

Copyright 2003 Reuters Limited.  All rights reserved.

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U.S. forces seize Iraqi documents as new 'Saddam' tape released

by D'ARCY DORAN, Associated Press
Published: July 30, 2003, 02:45:36 AM PDT

TIKRIT, Iraq (AP) - In a new audiotape attributed to Saddam Hussein, a calm voice acknowledged the deaths of the ousted dictator's two sons and called them martyrs. U.S. forces searched for clues to Saddam's whereabouts in documents and photo albums seized in his hometown.

If confirmed, the tape - the third attributed to Saddam this month - could put to rest any remaining doubts among Iraqis that Odai and Qusai Hussein were killed in a firefight with U.S. soldiers in the northern city of Mosul on July 22.

The audiotape was broadcast Tuesday on the Arab satellite station Al-Arabiya, five days after the U.S. military released grisly photos of their bloodied bodies in an effort to convince Iraqis that the sons were dead and to weaken support for an anti-American insurgency.

U.S. forces on Tuesday interrogated 12 suspects arrested in Saddam's hometown, Tikrit, and examined identity cards, bound notebooks, Baath Party records and other documents found in their homes to try to fill in the picture of his desperate flight.

In Baghdad, meanwhile, Iraq's U.S.-appointed Governing Council of 25 prominent Iraqis appointed a nine-member presidency, failing to agree on a single leader for the beginnings of a new Iraqi government.

In the nine-minute audiotape, a voice resembling Saddam's said he was glad Odai and Qusai Hussein were killed because such a death "is the hope of every fighter."

"Even if Saddam Hussein has 100 sons other than Odai and Qusai, Saddam Hussein would offer them the same path," said the calm, even voice. "That is the hope of every fighter for God's sake, as another group of noble souls of the martyrs has ascended to their creator."

The speaker said the recording was made in July 2003, but the exact date was not clear. Al-Arabiya said it received the tape Tuesday. The widely watched satellite station broadcasts across the Middle East, including in Iraq.

The CIA was reviewing the new message to determine if it was authentic, a U.S. intelligence official said. The speaker sounded like the voice in other recordings attributed to Saddam, with the same vocabulary and tone.

The last audio recording attributed to Saddam was broadcast by Al-Arabiya on July 23 and claimed to have been recorded July 20. U.S. intelligence officials said it was probably authentic.

The other recording said Saddam was speaking on July 14 and referred to the new Governing Council of Iraq. U.S. intelligence officials said that recording also was probably authentic and was further evidence that Saddam survived the war.

U.S. commanders, meanwhile, said the documents seized in Tikrit gave clues to Saddam's flight from American forces, who have reported at least two near-misses in the past week.

"Each time we do something, we get information, even if we don't get the people," said Lt. Col. Steve Russell, who led the raids in Tikrit. "It slowly leads to pieces of the puzzle, and it keeps filling in."

In Washington, U.S. officials expressed confidence that Saddam would be tracked down, saying that in the end, he will be the one to decide whether he's taken dead or alive.

"The decisions made by the individual being pursued will prevail in most cases if he doesn't wish to be taken alive," Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said.

Russell led simultaneous pre-dawn raids on several homes in the heart of Saddam's hometown, 120 miles north of Baghdad. Soldiers blasted open doors with shotguns, leading away dazed occupants in blindfolds and throwing photographs and documents into the street.

Similar raids have occurred daily across Iraq. A coalition military official said American forces conducted 58 raids between Monday afternoon and Tuesday afternoon, detaining 176 people. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, gave no other details.

Among those captured was Adnan Abdullah Abid al-Musslit, a stocky man commanders said was one of Saddam's most trusted bodyguards. Al-Musslit, who is Saddam's cousin, was believed to have detailed knowledge of Saddam's hiding spots.

Al-Musslit had retired from his job, but Saddam called him back into service before the war started, Russell said, citing intelligence gathered from Tikrit residents.

"If everything else had failed and we just got that one guy, we would be happy," Russell said.

The soldiers had to overpower al-Musslit, who several soldiers said was quite drunk, wrestling him to the ground and dragging him down the stairs. Al-Musslit tried to make it out of his bedroom to grab a submachine gun, but the soldiers were too quick, said Lt. Chris Morris, a sniper on the raid.

Outside, soldiers tied a tan cloth over al-Musslit's eyes and stripped him to his underwear, searching for weapons. Blood seeped through the blindfold - Morris said from a broken nose suffered in the scuffle - and an Army medic examined him.

Russell said the resistance was to be expected.

"Were we surprised? He's a bodyguard," Russell said. "That's why we went in with our steely knives and oily guns."

Eleven other suspects were taken away from the Tikrit raids, including Daher Ziana, responsible for security at Saddam's Tikrit palaces, and Rafa Idham Ibrahim al-Hassan, another Saddam cousin and bodyguard who led the Saddam Fedayeen militia in Tikrit.

Outside Ziana's yard, six women wailed as soldiers tossed photographs and documents into the driveway. A large portrait of Saddam lay alongside a picture of Ziana in uniform. One album featured a photograph of women posing with Kalashnikov rifles.

Among the documents was something called a "Saddam Privilege Card," Russell said.

Soldiers took the men to an Army detention facility in Tikrit for interrogation.

Although President Bush declared major combat over nearly three months ago, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard B. Myers, said Tuesday the area from Baghdad to Tikrit was "still a war zone."

"Eighty percent of the security incidents are happening there," Myers said at a news conference in New Delhi. "It's fair to say it's still a war zone in that area."

As of Tuesday, 246 U.S. soldiers and 43 British soldiers have died since the beginning of military operations in Iraq, according to military officials.

Hoping to begin a political process in the occupied country, Iraq's U.S. administrators on July 13 appointed a 25-member Governing Council of prominent Iraqis to name a Cabinet, formulate economic policies and produce a process to write a new constitution. Its first order of business, U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer said at the time, would be to elect a president.

But the council announced Tuesday it had formed a nine-member presidency, highlighting its inability to agree on a single leader.

Like the Governing Council, the presidency has a slight Shiite Muslim majority, with two Kurdish leaders and two non-Kurdish Sunni Muslims represented.

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Troops Find Weapons Near Base in Iraq
By D'ARCY DORAN, Associated Press Writer

Mon Jul 28, 7:12 AM ET

TIKRIT, Iraq - U.S. soldiers discovered 40 anti-tank mines, dozens of mortar rounds and hundreds of pounds of gunpowder Monday buried a quarter mile from the gates of the 4th Infantry Division's headquarters here in Saddam Hussein's hometown.

The freshly buried weapons, found outside an abandoned building in Tikrit that once belonged to Saddam Hussein's Fedayeen militia, were sufficient for a month of guerrilla attacks on U.S. troops, said Maj. Bryan Luke, 37, of Mobile, Ala., whose patrol found the weapons cache.

Finding "this cache saved a few lives out there," Luke said. "Forty mines could have caused a lot of problems for U.S. forces here in Tikrit."

The city has become a center in the intensifying hunt for Saddam and his top officials U.S. soldiers based here said they missed catching Saddam's security chief — and possibly the former dictator himself — by a mere 24 hours in a pre-dawn raid on Sunday. Soldiers captured a group of men believed to include five to 10 of Saddam's bodyguards in a raid in the city on Thursday.

U.S. soldiers in Tikrit are pitted against members of Saddam's extended family and relatives of his inner circle. Since July 17, the 22nd Infantry Regiment has killed seven of ousted dictators relatives in action, wounded two and captured 12, said regiment commander Lt. Col. Steven Russell, 40, from Del City, Okla.

"They're down to very few people that they can still trust and they're relying on their family," Russell said.

Soldiers had also raided the building where they found the weapons last week, but after they left Saddam loyalists smuggled the weapons into the site where they could moved on foot to stage attacks on U.S. forces, said Luke, a member of 22nd Infantry Regiment, which covers the city.

"They were trying to hide these weapons as close as possible to the areas that we use," Luke said.

The army found evidence last week that the Fedayeen were using civilian ambulances to move weapons around the city, Luke said.

His patrol was drawn back to the site after noticing a shovel and what appeared to be newly turned earth outside the building, he said.

Besides the anti-tank mines, the cache included 30 60mm mortar rounds, 200 pounds of gun powder, 20 pounds of C4 explosive and several rocket propelled grenades.

Also in Tikrit, soldiers from 22nd Infantry had a brief gunfight before dawn on Monday with a man armed with an AK-47 rifle who fired from a government building. Soldiers surrounded the building and killed the man in a brief exchange of fire, Russell said.

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  U.S. troops capture Saddam bodyguard; audiotape declares Odai and Qusai martyrs

By D'ARCY DORAN - Associated Press Writer

July 28, 2003

TIKRIT, Iraq (AP) - American soldiers overpowered and arrested a bodyguard who rarely left Saddam Hussein's side Tuesday and said they obtained documents and information that could help them close in on the former dictator.

An audiotape attributed to the deposed Iraqi leader declared his sons martyrs.

Also Tuesday, Iraq's Governing Council, the 25-member body set up by the U.S.-led coalition to run Iraq as an interim administration, elected a nine-member presidency. The council's statement Tuesday in Baghdad gave no details on how the presidency would function.

In the audiotape aired on the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya satellite station, a voice that resembled Saddam's lauded his sons, Odai and Qusai, who were killed July 22 in a firefight with U.S. soldiers in the northern city of Mosul.

"Even if Saddam Hussein had 100 children other than Odai and Qusai, Saddam Hussein would offer their lives in the same way," the voice said. "Thank God for what he destined for us, and honored us with their martyrdom for his sake."

Some Iraqis had doubted the bodies were those of Saddam's sons, accusing the United States of staging the shootout to demoralize Saddam's supporters. The United States released photographs of the sons and let journalists see their bodies in an attempt to convince Iraqis they were really dead.

The raid in Tikrit captured Adnan Abdullah Abid al-Musslit, who as "one of Saddam's lifelong bodyguards" was believed to have detailed knowledge of the former president's hiding places, said Lt. Col. Steve Russell. He said documents taken from the home and information obtained from the men would be useful in the hunt for Saddam.

"Every photo and every document connects the dots," said Russell, commander of the 4th Infantry Division's 22nd Infantry Regiment.

The stocky bodyguard struggled to break free as soldiers arrested him, and they had to wrestle him to the ground and drag him down the stairs, Russell said.

"Were we surprised? He's a bodyguard. That's why we went in with our steely knives and oily guns," Russell said. "If everything else had failed and we just got that one guy, we would be happy."

But the series of pre-dawn raids in the heart of the Saddam's hometown nabbed 12 people, including Daher Ziana, the former head of security in Tikrit, and Rafa Idham Ibrahim al-Hassan, a leader of the Saddam Fedayeen militia.

The raids began at 4 a.m. when soldiers fired three shotgun blasts into the locks of the house where bodyguard al-Musslit was living with his family.

Moments later, an Associated Press reporter watched as soldiers pulled al-Musslit from the house, bleeding and barefoot. Soldiers stripped him to his underwear, searching for weapons, and dragged him into an Army Humvee.

A medic examined the right side of his forehead, where blood seeped through the wide tan cloth that was wrapped over his eyes as a blindfold.

Al-Musslit had retired from his job as one of Saddam's most trusted bodyguards, but the former Iraqi leader called him back into service before the war started, Russell said, citing intelligence gathered from Tikrit residents.

About a block away, soldiers stormed a house where Ziana was living, emerging from one the house's ornate arched entrances with four men with their hands tied behind their back. One of the men was identified as Ziana, Saddam's security chief in Tikrit.

Soldiers cut white sheets from the home into strips to make blindfolds for the men, who sat under guard in the front yard.

Six women, some clutching the hands of small children, wailed as soldiers threw photographs and documents into the driveway. A large portrait of Saddam lay alongside a picture of Ziana in uniform. One album featured a photo of women posing with Kalashnikov rifles.

Among the documents was something called a "Saddam Privilege Card," Russell said.

Nearby, soldiers pulled al-Hassan from another house, Russell said. Al-Hassan was believed to be a Brigadier General and a leader of the Fedayeen militia, which is suspected in the mounting attacks on U.S. troops.

The men were taken to an Army detention facility in Tikrit where they will be interrogated, Russell said.

The 22nd Infantry said it came within 24 hours of catching Saddam's new security chief _ and possibly the dictator himself _ at a farm in eastern Tikrit on Sunday. It also assisted Task Force 20, the special operations force hunting Saddam, in a Thursday raid that netted up to 10 of the dictator's suspected bodyguards in al-Uja, the Tikrit suburb where Saddam was born.

It began hunting al-Musslit after a raid on a farm belonging to Saddam's cousin Barzan Abd al-Ghafur Sulayman Majid al-Tikriti _ 11th on the U.S. list of Iraq's 55 most-wanted _ where they found several photos of al-Musslit at Saddam's side, Russell said.

Bradley fighting vehicles were attacked late last week around the corner from the house where al-Musslit was staying. Russell and his driver, Spc. Cody Hoefer, became locked in a close-quarter shootout with al-Musslit's nephew and three other men, Russell said. The four Iraqis were killed in the fight.

In the following days, soldiers stepped up surveillance on the area and gathered the information that led to the raids.

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