Saddam: 'I want to negotiate'
TRAPPED tyrant Saddam Hussein offered to negotiate with the US troops who caught him hiding in a muddy hole, an officer who helped capture him revealed today.
"I’m Saddam Hussein, I’m the president of Iraq and I’m willing to negotiate," the former dictator told the soldiers who discovered him lying in the dirt.
"President Bush sends his regards," was the troops’ response.
The exchange which marked Saddam’s capture was recounted today by Major Brian Reed, of the US Army’s Fourth Infantry Division, as he re-visited the former president’s hide-out with reporters.
Saddam was found during a search of farm buildings and their surroundings by US troops, close to his home town of Tikrit on Saturday.
Although armed with a pistol, the former dictator gave himself up without a struggle, and is now being held in a secret location for interrogation.
The arrest of the deposed tyrant, however, was followed today by fresh attacks on bases used by coalition troops.
Suicide car bombings at two Baghdad area police stations killed nine people, shattering any hope of a swift end to violence following the arrest.
One attacker crashed his car into the gates of a police station in the village of Husseiniyah, 18 miles north of Baghdad, before detonating explosives that killed himself and seven police officers, an Iraqi police spokesman said. Around 20 people were wounded.
In Baghdad, 30 minutes later, a second bomber blew himself up in a car packed with explosives outside Amiriyah criminal investigation department. He died and 12 people - eight police and four passers-by - were wounded.
A third attack on the station was foiled minutes later when police fired at an approaching speeding car. Explosives were found in the vehicle and were defused after the driver abandoned the car and fled.
Iraq foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari said it was anticipated that attacks would continue for some time.
"These are desperate attempts by his supporters and loyalists just to show that they are still there and they can still cause trouble and more pain," he said.
"These are acts of desperation and revenge and we said yesterday in all the interviews and statements that we made that really, in the immediate term, there would be a spate of attacks just to reinforce this message of his supporters that they are still alive and they still can cause difficulties."
His remarks were made as Saddam was facing lengthy interrogation in custody, amid reports he was being moved out of his home country.
There were suggestions he was being held in a cell at Baghdad Airport, while unconfirmed reports on the Dubai-based Arab TV station Al-Arabiya said he had been taken to Qatar. With demands from Iraqi leaders that Saddam should stand trial in his home country, there was no agreement on what form his expected trial would take.
But US President George Bush said Saddam would "face the justice he denied to millions".
First, however, he will be grilled by American intelligence officials trying to find out the truth about his unaccounted for weapons of mass destruction and his part in the continuing resistance to the coalition troops.
The toppled dictator has so far refused to co-operate with his captors. Striking a defiant tone, he has reportedly denied that Iraq held any weapons of mass destruction.
When questioned on whether the weapons existed, Saddam, according to Time Magazine in the US, told interrogators: "No, of course not. The US dreamed them up itself to have a reason to go to war with us."
The former tyrant claimed he banned UN weapons inspectors from his palaces because "we didn’t want them to intrude on our privacy".
Officials are reported to have said the 66-year-old was almost incoherent at times and refused to answer several questions.
When asked "How are you?" he reportedly replied: "I am sad because my people are in bondage".
And when offered a glass of water, Saddam said: "If I drink water I will have to go to the bathroom and how can I use the bathroom when my people are in bondage?"
The fallen dictator’s final bolt-hole suggested he has had little hand in planning strikes.
He was captured in a hole beneath a hut in the village of Ad Dawr, near his northern stronghold of Tikrit. The vital tip-off came from a member of his family.
As well as the pistol he was armed with, the soldiers who arrested him found two AK-47 rifles and $750,000 (500,000). An orange and white taxi was parked nearby.
Saddam was not injured in the raid but was "bewildered" and "disorientated" as he emerged, said the US military. He put up no resistance.
"He was just caught like a rat," said Major General Raymond Odierno, whose 4th Infantry Division troops staged the raid.
"When you’re in the bottom of a hole, you can’t fight back."
Two Iraqis who tried to flee the scene were also arrested by some of the 600 American troops involved in Operation Red Dawn.
DNA tests confirmed Saddam’s identity and video footage of the medical examination by the US military was broadcast, showing the 66-year-old with a dishevelled beard and unkempt hair.
He was said to be defiant and unapologetic by the Iraqi Governing Council, to whom the coalition will hand over power next year and who visited him yesterday.
They want to see him tried in a special court with a panel of five judges and international legal observers.
Those details have yet to be agreed, but his capture is a major boost for President Bush.
Speaking at the White House last night, Mr Bush said: "The capture of this man was crucial to the rise of a free Iraq. It marks the end of the road for him and all who bullied and killed in his name."
Mr Bush told the Iraqi people: "The torture chamber and the secret police are gone forever. You will never have to fear the rule of Saddam Hussein ever again.
"In the history of Iraq a dark and painful era is over. A hopeful day has arrived."
The President also warned the American people that Saddam’s capture did not mean an end to violence in Iraq or the war on terror.
"We still face terrorists who would rather go on killing innocents than accept the rise of liberty in the Middle East," he said.
"The United States of America will not relent until this war is over."
Mr Bush was deliberately downbeat, but Paul Bremer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, told a news conference in Baghdad: "Ladies and gentlemen, we got him."
Prime Minister Tony Blair led international reaction to the news.
"Saddam is gone from power. He will not be coming back.
"That the Iraqi people now know and it is they who will decide his future," he said.
"The shadow of Saddam has finally lifted from the Iraqi people.
"We give thanks for that, but let this be more than a case simply for rejoicing. Let it be a moment to reach out and reconcile."
News of Saddam’s capture sent crowds on to Baghdad’s streets, firing off bursts of celebratory gunfire.
It was welcomed even by leaders who had opposed the coalition action which ended his regime.
French president Jacques Chirac said he was "delighted" and Germany’s Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said he heard the news "with great joy".
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 3 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: West