U.S. Forces Uncover Iraqi Ex-Leader Near Home Town

By Rajiv Chandrasekaran
Monday, December 15, 2003

BAGHDAD, Dec. 14 -- Former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was captured without a shot Saturday night by American soldiers who discovered him hiding in the dark of a tiny, underground burrow near his home town, U.S. military officials said on Sunday.

Hussein was detained outside Dawr, a hamlet along the Tigris River about 10 miles southeast of Tikrit, by soldiers of the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division, military officials said. He was spirited to Baghdad, officials said, where he was subjected to a medical examination and questioning that could lead eventually to a trial for crimes against humanity and genocide.

Within hours of his capture, however, the man who exercised absolute power in Iraq for almost three decades was confronted by several politicians he had tormented. In a 30-minute meeting at a detention facility at Baghdad International Airport, four of the country's new leaders grilled Hussein about his rule.

"He had no regret or remorse," said Mowaffak Rubaie, a member of Iraq's U.S.-appointed Governing Council. "He remains the street thug that he always was."

"He was unrepentant and defiant," said Adel Abdel-Mehdi, a senior Shiite Muslim politician. "He was not at all apologetic. He just made excuses for his crimes."

However, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the top military commander in Iraq, said Hussein "has been cooperative and is talkative." Sanchez, who observed Hussein in custody, described the 66-year-old former leader as "a tired man, a man resigned to his fate."

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