UPI's coverage of Mosul raid

July 23, 2003 at 7:57 PM
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Uday, Qusay killings boost U.S. morale

By Pamela Hess

UPI Pentagon Correspondent

KUWAIT CITY, July 23 (UPI) -- The killing of Saddam Hussein's two sons by U.S. forces in Mosul will go a long way toward undermining Iraq's Iraqi Baathist resisters because it will chip away at their will to fight, a senior U.S. military official in Iraq told United Press International.

"This is a very beneficial hit," the official said Wednesday. "They cannot feel anything other than doom, since if we can take down these guys, we can take down anybody.

"It's a just a matter of time and good police work before we kill or arrest them, too."

Uday or Qusay Hussein, Saddam's sons, were said to be ruthless and known to have personally carried out and ordered killings and mass executions of dissidents. But neither was believed to have been directing the attacks against U.S. forces since U.S. President George W. Bush declared the major combat operation over in May. Their elusiveness gave hope to those who wanted them restored to power.

"War is primarily a matter of will," the official said a few hours after the deaths were announced. "The psychological blow is right into the vitals of those who pine for the old days, of those who have not recognized that the war for them is lost and that the Iraqi people continue to ...welcome us."

War's description as a matter of will is especially true in an insurgency, where sum totals of casualties matter less than public perception and popular support, and guerilla fighters rely either on the support or fear of local people.

"The momentum was only with the thugs in the public affairs arena, not the real arena for the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people," the official said. "Right now with our press announcing a resurgent Baath threat...(the enemy) could draw hope...that if they just kill a couple more Americans, if it just gets a little hotter...then the Americans will go away," the official said.

The Americans won't go away, the official insisted, adding the media focus on the daily attacks on U.S. forces created an impression that U.S troop morale was waning while Baathist fighters were getting more powerful and effective. Neither is true, he said, but it shows the gulf between what U.S. forces are experiencing and what the media is reporting.

The killing of the Hussein brothers after a four-hour firefight in the northern town of Mosul provided the U.S. military in Iraq, which had been facing almost daily casualties since the major combat operation ended, a much-need fillip though Saddam, the head of the Baath Party, is still believed to be alive.

"For our guys it's a morale boost," the official acknowledged, "but also a vindication that as we stay the course the doubters will eventually stop wringing their hands and harmony will be restored in Iraq, someday sooner than later."

The Baathists haven't been defeated yet, however. In the hours following the firefight that claimed not just Uday and Qusay but possibly Qusay's 14-year-old son and a bodyguard, at least one soldier from the 101st Airborne Division was killed in Mosul and seven were injured by a roadside bomb. Another soldier from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment was killed, and a soldier and a contractor wounded by a bomb west of Baghdad. Also Tuesday, a Red Cross convoy was attacked on the road between Baghdad and relatively peaceful Basrah.

We're "not certain why our media seems to so quickly find depressing the enemy's attacks," the official told UPI.

The media coverage of the Iraq war is largely centered on Baghdad, home to the coalition provisional authority and a key leg of the "Sunni Triangle" the area where Saddam's traditional support has been based. The almost daily attacks have claimed most headlines, for journalistic reasons that are not immediately comprehensible to military commanders.

Death, as drama and as breaking news, and as a possible indication of what is to come, draws media attention. But the military is also undermined by the high expectations for an easy victory set by the Bush administration prior to the war. Vice President Dick Cheney declared just a short time before the first shots were fired that Americans would be greeted as liberators, that they would be cheered in the streets.

That was indeed the aftermath of the 2001 war in Afghanistan, where the population of Kabul was joyful to be freed from the daily repression of the Taliban. And in some places in Iraq, the same thing happened.

But for the past month, even in the south, where Saddam's forces led by Qusay killed more than 100,000 Shiites during an ill-fated 1991 uprising, there have been large anti-U.S. demonstrations and rising tensions.

The U.S. military has a very different perspective on the progress of its campaign. Having finally acknowledged the attacks as a guerilla war, the counterinsurgency campaign, at least outside Baghdad, is going by the book - "Field Manual 90-8 on Counterguerilla Operations."

This doctrine prescribes a holistic approach to fighting an elusive enemy, putting at least as much emphasis on undermining the sources of support for guerillas as it does on attacking them directly. As such, the military is funding and arranging water-improvement projects, rebuilding schools and allowing peaceful demonstrations. Marines take off their helmets and body armor when meeting with locals. They are learning their way through the hierarchies of the tribal and religious systems, and playing soccer with children to gain their affection and trust -- and that of their parents.

As they do so, they are getting with increasing frequency tips on the location of arms caches and Baathist fighters. The whereabouts of Saddam's sons was also believed to have been passed on by Iraqis.

At the same time, the military is going on the offensive, deploying small teams of snipers to wait for hours for an ambush opportunity -- using silencers on their guns -- and setting up fake cargo convoys to lure attacks on themselves and then responding with overwhelming firepower from soldiers and Marines hidden inside.

U.S. Central Command chief Gen. John Abizaid also unveiled plans to create a new militia of some 7,500 Iraqis to patrol along with the U.S. military, honoring another pillar of counterguerilla doctrine -- to have indigenous forces sharing the burden. The militia would be in addition to police forces and the conventional military now being recruited.

It is a slow process, military officials acknowledge, but the only way they know to beat this enemy.

U.S. may show pics of Saddam's dead sons

By Pamela Hess

UPI Pentagon Correspondent

KUWAIT CITY, July 23 (UPI) -- It took three separate commando assaults and two bombardments with rockets, grenades and missiles to kill Uday and Qusay Hussein Tuesday afternoon, the commander of the U.S forces in Iraq said at a news conference Wednesday.

Saddam Hussein's two sons and another "adult" male were probably killed by 10 TOW anti-tank weapons launched from a Humvee at around 1:00 p.m. local time, Lt. Gen. Rick Sanchez said. He, however, declined to identify the fourth person killed in a shootout on the second floor of the home in Mosul at 1:21 p.m. as troops from the 101st Airborne Division and Army Special Forces entered the building for the third time.

It was likely Qusay's 14-year old son, the Arab television network al-Jazeera reported.

On Wednesday, U.S. forces captured Barzan Abd al-Ghafur Sulayman Mjid al-Tikriti, the Special Republican Guard commander and the 11th "most-wanted" Iraqi on the list of 55, Sanchez said. Around 35 leaders from Saddam Hussein's regime have now been captured or killed. Saddam is still believed to be at large, however.

Sanchez rejected reporters' suggestions the mission was less than a success.

"I would never consider this a failure," he said. "Our mission is to 'find, kill or capture.' In this case we had an enemy who was barricaded, and we had to take measures necessary.

"The death of Uday and Qusay I believe will be a turning point for the resistance and subversives we are encountering."

Critics said capturing the two men could have been better for the coalition for intelligence purposes. But the decision to kill rather than wait out and capture was made by the lower-ranking commander on the ground and Sanchez said he fully supported him.

"I am in no position to question his decision," he said.

The Pentagon is still deciding how it will prove to skeptical Iraqis that the two feared men were killed in the raid. They may publish photos of them, Sanchez indicated.

"In due time, we will provide that to you," he said.

The decision could be controversial given the U.S. government's objections to news agencies showing pictures of dead U.S. soldiers that showed identifying characteristics. It is a policy question rather than a military one, Sanchez said.

"We have not ruled out any options and I don't find myself in any quandary," he said. "I'm a soldier."

Uday and Qusay have been positively identified by old X-rays, dental records, and by four former Iraqi regime leaders in U.S. custody.

Uday was identified positively by matching X-rays to injuries he had suffered in a 1996 assassination attempt. His dental records were a 90-percent match because his teeth had been damaged in the assault, Sanchez said. Qusay's dental records showed a 100-percent match.

Three U.S. soldiers were injured in the 6-hour operation, Sanchez said. The "cordon and knock" operation began at 10 a.m. Around 200 soldiers surrounded the three-story home, supported on an outer ring by newly hired Iraqi police who cordoned off the residence. They were acting on a tip from a "walk-in" Iraqi source who stands to win as much as $30 million in reward money.

An interpreter used a bullhorn to convince the four people inside to surrender but received no response. U.S. forces then entered the building but took heavy gunfire as they made their way to the reinforced second floor where the four were hiding. Two soldiers were shot inside the building. A third was shot outside the house.

The American force retreated and called for back up, Sanchez said.

"It was appropriate for us to 'prep' the objective prior too re-entry. We were taking this at a fairly measured pace," Sanchez said. "There was no reason to rush to failure."

The force launched grenades and rockets and fired 50-caliber machine guns at the house to "neutralize the threat."

At around 11:45, the commander called for OH-58D Kiowa attack helicopters to fire on the house with rockets and heavy machine guns. At noon, a team re-entered the house, but was turned back a second time as it approached the second floor.

They withdrew and continued firing on the house to soften the resistance. About an hour later, at 1 p.m., they fired 10 Humvee-portable heavy anti-tank weapons at the second floor, and entered the building a third time.

"As we got up to second floor, we continued to receive fire and killed the remaining individual at the second floor," Sanchez said.

Teams from the 101st Airborne Division and a civil affairs unit are cleaning exploded ordnance and debris from the neighborhood and explaining the operation to residents. There were no civilians killed in the operation and no damage done to neighboring buildings, for which Sanchez credited the commander's decision not to employ A-10 Warthog ground attack aircraft and Apache attack helicopters against the home.

Sanchez emphasized that the military's work was not done: capturing or killing Saddam tops his 'to-do" list.

Analysis: No political gains for Bush

By Kathy A. Gambrell

UPI White House Reporter

WASHINGTON, July 23 (UPI) -- The reported deaths of Saddam Hussein's sons Uday and Qusay at the hands of U.S. military forces will have little effect on President George W. Bush's credibility particularly if attacks on U.S. military forces continue, political analysts told United Press International.

Bush emerged from the Oval Office Wednesday morning for the first time since Saddam's sons were reported killed a day earlier by U.S. military forces after a 4-hour firefight in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. The president, accompanied by presidential envoy L. Paul Bremer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, stood under cloudy skies in the White House Rose Garden and declared that the former regime was gone for good.

"Yesterday, in the city of Mosul, the careers of two of the regime's chief henchmen came to an end. Saddam Hussein's sons were responsible for torture, maiming and murder of countless Iraqis. Now more than ever, all Iraqis can know that the former regime is gone and will not be coming back," Bush said.

Uday and Qusay Hussein, Saddam's sons, were said to be ruthless and known to have personally carried out and ordered killings and mass executions of dissidents. But neither was believed to have been directing the attacks against U.S. forces since Bush declared the major combat operations over in May. The Husseins' elusiveness gave hope to those who wanted them restored to power.

The deaths of the two men comes as the White House faces stinging criticism over discredited intelligence reports and the increasing attacks on U.S. forces that have killed almost 40 troops since Bush declared an end to hostilities in May.

In the hours following the firefight that claimed not just Uday and Qusay but possibly Qusay's 14-year-old son and a bodyguard, at least one soldier from the 101st Airborne Division was killed in Mosul and seven others were injured by a roadside bomb. Another soldier from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment was killed and a soldier and a contractor wounded by a bomb west of Baghdad. Also Tuesday, a Red Cross convoy was attacked on the road between Baghdad and relatively peaceful Basra.

Ted Galen Carpenter, vice president for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute in Washington, told UPI that the two fatalities will have little effect on Bush's credibility when it comes to the Iraqi war.

"I don't think it has a dramatic or direct bearing on credibility at this point," Carpenter said. "I think what it may do is put to a test the administration's argument that the armed resistance we've encountering in Iraq is almost entirely the product of die-hard elements of the old regime. If that is the case, then the deaths of Uday and Qusay will be a major blow to the morale of the insurgent forces and we should see a decline in the number and severity of the attacks in the next several weeks."

Carpenter said that if the pace of attacks remains steady it may prove the resistance has a broader base than just the old regime.

He said that while it is desirable to find Saddam, it is not an overwhelmingly necessary goal for the administration to reach.

"Because as long as he's out there, it's almost the same as having Osama bin Laden out there. He is a symbol. But the reality is that Saddam's sons were the ones in charge of logistical operations so there is little evidence of Saddam himself ever being an expert on that. So I think in operational terms, getting his sons was more important than getting him," Carpenter said. "In symbolic terms getting him his more important."

Peter W. Singer, a foreign policy studies fellow at the Brookings Institution, said that the deaths make it evident that the regime is not returning to power and proves that coalition forces have cracked the loyalists' circles. He said it was unclear what effect it would have on the daily drumbeat of attacks against troops, particularly those in the so-called Sunni triangle -- a 30-square-mile region inhabited by Sunni Muslims and Baath Party loyalists.

"At least from their location, they were more on the run than serving as any kind coordinating group for these operations," said Singer of the Hussein brothers. "Being in Mosul is a little bit different from them being in the Sunni triangle where the attacks happened."

Another challenge for the administration is proving to skeptics and the American people at large that the Iraqis killed in the Mosul raid were actually Uday and Qusay.

Carpenter said it would be profoundly embarrassing for the military commanders to fake the deaths. On Wednesday, the Bush administration was weighing whether to release photos of the dead men taken after the attack.

The deaths of the Husseins would mark a second turning point in the Iraqi military operation -- the first being the toppling of Baghdad two months ago. It is also key for the Bush White House, which spent the last 10 days defending its handling of intelligence reports that claimed Saddam had attempted to buy uranium from Niger. Singer said the sons' deaths will have "zero effect" on Bush's credibility.

"There is no connection between the capture of the sons and statements made that played up and politicized intelligence before the war. The only thing that they're related is that they've used this opportunity of media focus on one to try and shift attention on the other," Singer said.

Those claims, which were included in the president's State of the Union address, were later discredited. It drew a loud and angry outcry from Capitol Hill lawmakers who charged Bush had used disinformation to move the country into war. British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose government had initially turned over those documents to the United States, traveled to Washington last week to help defend the president.

Blair told a joint session of Congress that history would eventually prove the two nations had made the right decision in forcibly disarming Saddam.

After more than a week of reporters asking who was responsible for the line making it into Bush's speech, Steve Hadley, a deputy National Security Council adviser, came forward during a briefing with reporters on Tuesday afternoon. Hadley said he was the most senior official in the White House charged with vetting national security issues with the president's speech.

Hadley offered Bush his resignation, which the president reportedly refused. Singer said that if the president had accepted the resignation, it would have been admitting fault.

Singer called Hadley's move into the forefront of the controversy a commonly used political ploy.

"It wasn't just a coincidence that Hadley tried to now take the fall on the same day as this (the sons' deaths)," Singer said.

"Whether Uday is alive or dead doesn't have anything to do with the fact that inside the White House intelligence was politicized and manipulated," Singer told UPI. "Those two things happened at different times. It wasn't Uday who put the 16 words in. It wasn't Uday who played up those connections. It's not to play down the success of getting those two guys, but just make sure it doesn't get politicized."


(With reporting from Pam Hess in Kuwait.)

Commentary: Saddam's Sense of Loss

By Martin Sieff

UPI Senior News Analyst

WASHINGTON, July 23 (UPI) -- They were Saddam Hussein's proudest creation: two conscience-free psychopaths even more murderous than he. And now they are gone: a blow more grievous to him than the annihilation of all his wealth and power. Yet it is not the loss of love as ordinary human beings know love that looks fated to grieve him, but the loss of the only thing that ever truly mattered to him: the truest part of himself.

For the long-time president of Iraq raised his sons Uday and Qusay to be tyrants even more fearful and "perfect" than himself. He confidently, unhesitatingly shaped them to be raping, torturing monsters allergic to the very concepts of pity and remorse. He, who despised the very thought of justice and mercy lived long enough, it seems, to see the avenging furies of a justice shorn of mercy strip him of the sons he had so carefully -- one can hardly say "lovingly" -- crafted in his own frightful image.

There is, as the 18th century poet William Blake put it, a fearful symmetry to all this. Saddam took especial, diabolical pleasure in ordering the murder, torture and rape of children in front of their parents' eyes. It was so innovative an invention of evil that even Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin seem never to have thought of it. Yet he, who thought nothing even of slaughtering his own daughters' husbands after luring them back to his clutches, had to live to experience exactly that kind of desolating loss himself. What will his reaction be now? Will he lash out with redoubled fury at the American destroyers of his tyranny and occupiers of Iraq? Will he grieve for his sons as any ordinary parent would? Or will he steel himself to celebrate them as martyrs to his cause as tyrants before him have done? There is another possibility.

For Saddam, without a doubt, took pride in the appallingly gratuitous depraved criminality of his sons. He never took any action to rein in their record of beating victims to death in front of witnesses for the slightest imagined slight, or raping innocent girls whenever the mood took them.

He was paranoid and jealous as much of his sons as of everyone else. U.S. intelligence before and during the three-week war that toppled him in April tracked his suspicions that his sons would use the opportunity to supplant him from power and his determination to keep them tied to his apron strings. But for all that, they were his own, and far more, the most cherished and proud extension of himself.

While they were alive, he, who had killed so many, could laugh at death, confident that the truest part of him -- the lust to destroy, rape and mass slaughter the innocent -- would live on after him in a fiercer, purer form, razing Iraq through its incarnation in his sons. But now they are gone. And where does that leave him?

Think of Saddam Hussein now as he appeared on the remarkable April 14 cover of "Time" magazine. That image, lifted by "Time" from Iraqi television video footage of Saddam walking the streets of beleaguered Baghdad on Friday, April 4 truly was a picture worth 10,000 words -- or even ten times that.

Saddam was clearly trying to present himself to the Iraqi people as jaunty, confident defiant. And there was indeed a frozen and entirely unconvincing fake smile imposed on his face. But there was also a strain on his features and an eerie, knowing light in his eyes that told a very different story. There, was the face of an evil creature run to earth who knew -- against all his desire not to know -- that after a lifetime of torture and treachery he had run out of stratagems and there is nowhere else to go. There, was the face of a man who knows he did not have to flee to Samara to have a rendezvous with death. It was patiently waiting for him down the road.

The "Time" cover image captured this inner reality. For three and a half decades, Saddam delighted in appearing as a fearful sphinx to his intimate circle, the Iraqi people and the wider world. Visitors and interviewing journalists often remarked about the curious flat deadness of his eyes, a phenomenon commonly noted by police, crime reporters and prosecutors among the worst serial killers and torture-murderers.

Yet in that "Time" cover photo, there was already a clear glint of emotion and self-awareness in the eyes. He was looking out of the corner of them, almost squinting as if trying to see what the next frightful ambush, an avenging fate on the prowl would have in store for him around the next bend. Now, of course, he knows.

Saddam in that photo was trying to appear jaunty, but, as we observed three months ago in UPI Analysis, he could not pull it off. Indeed, the attempt backfired. He who rose so high and reigned so long by eschewing anything as contemptible as mere human emotion stripped himself naked of his own frightful majesty when sought to take refuge in the simple human natural emotions he had ever eschewed.

What can be going through the mind of a murderous tyrant on the run who has just learned that the sons in whose depravity he took such pride have been destroyed while the hunt for him intensifies? It would take a genius to imagine such a thing. But 400 years ago, one did: the greatest of all dramatists, William Shakespeare.

In the concluding scene of his masterpiece "Richard III," Shakespeare envisages the medieval English tyrant-king and child-murderer the night before he was slaughtered in battle at Bosworth Field in 1485. Previously, Richard has never shown the slightest symptom of remorse, guilt or even fear that any of his endless, monstrous crimes, most of them gloated over and savored at the time, would ever come back to haunt him. But on this one night, haunt him they literally do, as the ghosts of all his victims come to visit him while lying alone in his tent, dreading the inexorable justice that can no longer be defied.

Now Richard, who had previously despised the emotion of mercy as fit to be experienced only by contemptible victims who deserved to be slaughtered, cries out in pity and forgiveness -- for himself. But it is, of course, far too late. As he despairingly recognizes, judgment hour has come.

"The lights burn blue. It is now dead midnight.

"Cold fearful drops stand on my trembling flesh ...

"I shall despair. There is no creature loves me;

"And if I die no soul will pity me:

"And wherefore should they since that I myself

"Find in myself no pity to myself?

"Methought the souls of all that I had murder'd

Came to my tent, and every one did threat

Tomorrow's vengeance on the head of Saddam."

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