- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 21, 2003

BAGHDAD — Saddam Hussein was personally directing the postwar insurgency inside Iraq that has claimed the lives of more than 200 coalition troops, playing a far more active role than previously thought, American intelligence officers have concluded since his capture.

Despite the bewildered appearance of the deposed dictator when he was hauled from his hiding hole last weekend, he is believed to have been issuing regular instructions on targets and tactics through five trusted lieutenants.

This conclusion could have serious implications for his status in U.S. custody. U.S. officials have made clear that he will lose his rights as a prisoner of war if he was involved in the postwar violence.

Documents found in his briefcase when he was caught indicated that he had been kept informed of the progress of the insurgency, but did not suggest he had overall control of operations by former Ba’ath Party loyalists.

However, since the arrest and interrogation of guerrilla leaders identified in the paperwork, U.S. investigators now believe that Saddam was at the head of an elaborate network of rebel cells.

They have put together a detailed picture of Saddam’s support structure while in hiding. This network enabled him to issue commands without the use of satellite phones that monitoring devices could pick up.

The Sunday Telegraph also has learned that millions of dollars to support the insurgency were recovered in raids on other suspected Saddam safe houses.

U.S. officials say he was in regular contact with five “enablers” — veterans of his feared security services drawn from his power base of Tikrit.

Each man had his own responsibility: logistics, financing, planning, operations and as chief of staff. It was the last of these lieutenants, picked up in a swoop in Baghdad nine days ago, who gave away Saddam’s hiding place.

“They knew where he was, and they were able to travel to him or meet him somewhere,” said Maj. Stan Murphy, the intelligence officer for the 4th Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade, which captured the deposed dictator.

The enablers kept Saddam informed and passed his commands to a second layer of subordinates, who headed rebel cells in such flash-point cities as Samarra and Fallujah and who passed the orders down through several tiers to the lowest-level operatives.

“He would give very general guidance like, ‘Hey, I’d like to see more attacks,’” the major said. “His enablers would then go out to the various tiers below them and give specific guidance, money and weapons.”

By capturing Saddam and several leaders of his Fedayeen fighters, the Americans believe that they have dealt a serious blow to the Ba’athist insurgency. Attacks on coalition forces, however, have continued since Saddam’s capture.

In Iraq yesterday, the Spanish prime minister paid a surprise visit to his country’s soldiers, affirming his support for the occupation as the United States said it was deploying more troops.

In a trip resembling President Bush’s Thanksgiving Day visit, Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar landed in Iraq at about 11 a.m. with a 16-member delegation to meet some of the 1,300 Spanish troops in Iraq, based in the southern town of Diwaniyah. He left four hours later.

In brief comments to reporters, Mr. Aznar expressed support for the Spanish troops and said he brought them greetings from King Juan Carlos. He said the soldiers were working for “the cause of freedom, democracy and respect for international law.”

In Washington, senior military officials in Washington said the Pentagon is sending an additional 2,000 troops to Iraq and extending the deployment of another unit.

Japan also said it was dispatching 1,000 troops on a humanitarian mission to southern Iraq — the country’s first deployment to a conflict zone since World War II.

Meanwhile, U.S. forces mistakenly fired on Iraqi policemen staffing a checkpoint in northeast Iraq, thinking they were bandits, killing three officers and wounding two, local police said. And in an apparent revenge campaign, attackers separately killed two persons with close ties to Saddam.

The policemen were staffing a checkpoint on a road in the Sleiman Beg area, 55 miles south of Kirkuk in northeast Iraq, when U.S. troops opened fire around midnight Friday, said Lt. Salam Zangana of the Kirkuk police force. He said two other policemen were wounded.

There was no immediate comment from the U.S. military.

In the southern Iraqi city of Najaf, gunmen on a bicycle attacked Damiyah Abbas, a former provincial official of Saddam’s Ba’ath Party, and her 5-year-old son in front of her home yesterday, witnesses said. The boy was killed, and his mother was in critical condition in a hospital, police Lt. Raed Abbas said.

It was the third attack in the Shi’ite Muslim holy city of Najaf — apparently part of a series of revenge killings against local members of Saddam’s Ba’athist regime, which brutally repressed Shi’ites. Damiyah Abbas was believed to have participated in the repression of a 1991 Shi’ite uprising against Saddam’s government.

On Friday, gunmen killed former Ba’ath official Ali Qassem al-Tamimi, the district mayor of Najaf’s al-Furat neighborhood, as he shopped with a friend, said another police official, Lt. Raed Jawad Abdel Saada.

And in Najaf on Wednesday, an angry crowd dragged former Saddam official Ali al-Zalimi from his car as he drove through town and beat him to death. He also was believed to have helped repress the 1991 uprising.

c This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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