- The Washington Times - Friday, August 1, 2003

TIKRIT, Iraq — U.S. forces grabbed two “important associates of the former regime” napping in their homes yesterday, seizing documents and photographs they hoped would help the search for Saddam Hussein.

Also, a tape attributed to the former dictator urged Iraqis to join the anti-American insurgency and vowed Saddam would return to power “at any moment.”

In Jordan, one of Saddam’s daughters told an Arab satellite station that Baghdad’s swift fall to U.S.-led coalition forces on April 9 was a “great shock” caused by a “very strong” betrayal by associates of her father.

“With regret, those my father trusted, whom he had put his absolute confidence in and whom he had considered on his side — as I understood from the newspapers — betrayed him,” Raghad Saddam Hussein told the station Al Arabiya.

“They betrayed their country, before [they betrayed] Saddam Hussein or his family,” she said. Raghad and her sister, Rana, were granted sanctuary in Jordan on Thursday on “humanitarian grounds,” the Jordanian government said.

About 100 soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division carried out simultaneous raids yesterday afternoon in Saddam’s hometown of Tikrit. They captured the men, who were being tracked for days, without many problems — partly because both were napping in the afternoon heat, commanders said.

The military did not identify the captives, but Lt. Col. Steve Russell called them “important associates of the former regime.” Soldiers seized documents and photographs from the houses, but Col. Russell said it was too soon to say how valuable they were.

“I think it does bring us closer [to capturing Saddam],” he said. “We believe the information they may possess will further help destroy the regime.”

The two men emerged peacefully from the homes, separated by a vacant lot. One was luxurious with modern fittings, the other ramshackle with slit windows. No weapons were found in the homes, the military said.

Earlier, the Arab television network Al Jazeera broadcast an audiotape purportedly carrying the voice of Saddam speaking Sunday. The voice sounded like Saddam’s but there was no way immediately to confirm its authenticity.

The speaker issued a new call to arms and said people who participated in the rampant looting of government property as the war wound down should not worry about retribution when Saddam defeats the American occupation.

“We have decided to consider all the properties of the party and the government a gift to whoever has it, to use as they see fit, to keep or to sell without any restrictions, free from any legal constraints, now or in the future,” the voice said.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military said insurgents were not involved with an explosion along a natural-gas pipeline near Baiji, 75 miles north of Baghdad, which burned for a second day yesterday. Maj. Michael Panciera said the Americans believed Thursday night’s explosion was accidental.

Two Republican members of Congress, House Majority leader Tom DeLay of Texas and Rep. Ander Crenshaw of Florida, toured Baghdad in a long convoy accompanied overhead by Apache attack helicopters yesterday.

Mr. DeLay criticized both Iraqis and Americans for being too impatient to see improvements in Iraqis’ lives. Open shops and available merchandise on Baghdad’s streets showed the country was rebuilding slowly, he said.

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