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Since 1st March, 1999
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Iraq Briefs

$25-m bounty mystery

Baghdad, Dec. 15: There’s no clear word yet on who, if anyone, will get the $25-million bounty promised for information leading to Saddam Hussein’s capture. But US officials indicated that someone close to the deposed dictator’s family might be in the money, the Washington Post said today.

The Sunday Times of London said one of the few people in regular contact with Saddam was his second wife, Samira Shahbandar, who had been living in Lebanon with the former leader’s only surviving son, Ali, 21. Asked at a news conference about reports that she had led coalition forces to the arrest, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, the top US military commander in Iraq, said: “Rumours. Next'”

Officials offered no detailed information on the role the deposed leader’s family played in the tip that led to his hiding place, and they deflected questions on whether the bounty might end up rewarding a betrayal by someone in Saddam’s family.

Major General Raymond Odierno, commander of the 4th Infantry Division that captured Saddam, said during the past week-and-a-half, US soldiers questioned “five to 10 members” of families “close to Saddam.” “Finally we got the ultimate information from one of these individuals.”

Tikrit trouble

Tikrit (Reuters): US soldiers used batons on Monday to break up a demonstration in Tikrit to protest against the capture of Saddam Hussein near his hometown, witnesses said. Scores of people gathered outside Tikrit university to denounce Saturday’s arrest of Saddam, who was born and captured near the town. “God is Greatest, America is the enemy of all peoples,” they shouted with their fists raised. US soldiers charged the protest, beating and arresting some protesters.

Saudi scorn

Riyadh (Reuters): Saudi newspapers on Monday said the capture of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein without a shot fired exposed the weakness and hypocrisy of radical Arab leaders. “What we saw yesterday was the televised unveiling of 30-year-old lie. A leader surrendered without fighting, the Arab street is stunned, and the Arab media appears to be in a state of shock,” wrote Tareq al-Hamed in Saudi daily Asharq al-Awsat. The Arab News said: “Hopefully, the pit in which he was concealed is also the grave for all despotism.

Sunni support

Fallujah (AFP): Residents of this Sunni rebel stronghold west of Baghdad simply found it hard to believe that Saddam Hussein had finally been captured. They insisted the announcement was meant to end their resistance to the coalition and vowed the attacks on occupation forces will continue. “I heard that he’s been arrested but these are lies and I don’t believe it,” said a vegetable seller.

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