- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 25, 2003

WASHINGTON, March 25 (UPI) — U.S. officials believe Saddam Hussein is alive and is being treated for injuries in a Baghdad bunker, USA Today reported Tuesday.

In a report from Kuwait City, the newspaper quoted U.S. intelligence and military sources saying the Iraqi leader had survived last week's U.S. missile attack on his Baghdad offices, but was wounded and being treated in a bunker in the capital.

"We know we hit him. We know he was wounded," a U.S. intelligence official involved in tracking Saddam told the newspaper. "We also believe he hasn't left Baghdad."

On Monday, Iraqi TV broadcast a message from Saddam who said he was still in control of his armed forces and vowed that victory was near.

U.S. intelligence officials told the newspaper the person in the latest video was Saddam, but the message could have been recorded before the war began.

The newspaper said intercepted communications, captured Iraqi generals, spy satellites and aircraft were being used to try to track his movements, but the Iraqi leader can move from bunker to bunker via underground tunnels in Baghdad. Intelligence sources also said Delta Force commandos in Baghdad had tapped Saddam's underground phone lines, and the CIA had recruited an Iraqi official who knows where Saddam sleeps.

In another report Tuesday, the Washington Times said the United States had begun a covert mission to acquire Iraq's intelligence archives and had contacted that country's notorious Mukhabarat intelligence service.

The sources, who the newspaper identified as U.S. officials, said the task was being carried out by military special-operations units. Their goal was to find and safeguard intelligence that would tell a fuller story of Saddam's 24-year regime.

U.S. officials are already in touch with Iraqi military commanders, including some in the Republican Guard, about the possibility of their surrender or a coup against Saddam.

It is believed the documents could provide links between Saddam's regime and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network, as well as Baghdad's arms buying record. Under U.N. sanctions in place against Iraq, weapons cannot be sold to the country.

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