Wednesday, April 9
Undercover hunt for regime's top men
Oliver Burkeman in Washington and Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian, April 10, 2003
SAS soldiers and US special forces from the covert intelligence unit Grey Fox were combing Baghdad for Saddam Hussein's inner circle yesterday and finding informants now willing to come forward, according to those familiar with the operation. .... Last night British agencies believed he was alive, possibly in Baghdad.
A rumour raised in Lebanon that he took refuge inside the Russian embassy was denied by the Russian foreign ministry, which insisted it "does not correspond with reality".
While the US publicly played down the issue of Saddam's fate, the hunt was growing. Some of his close circle are expected to try soon to escape, perhaps to Tikrit, according to a former special forces soldier in contact with the operation. [...]
He added that Abed Hamid Mahmoud, Saddam's personal secretary, or Vice-president Taha Yassin Ramadan would "realise their crimes are so dramatic that there's no deal they can cut".
Ranks immediately beneath them, including the information minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf (who did not show up for work yesterday), were considered candidates for "helping us out with information, in order to survive". [...]