| Sergeant Jem Nallen from Columbus, Ohio, writes a letter to his fiancee, Elaine, in a military camp outside Baquba, central Iraq. (Reuters)
Amman, Dec. 18 (Agencies): Saddam Hussein was betrayed by a relative who was his personal bodyguard and who led US troops to the ousted Iraqi leader’s hideout after drugging him, a Jordanian newspaper reported today, quoting a source close to the US-led coalition in Iraq.
“A source close to the occupation forces... Revealed that the one who informed on Saddam, betrayed him and handed him over to the American forces is his relative, General Mohammed Ibrahim Omar al-Muslit,” al-Arab al-Yawm daily said from Baghdad.
Muslit was Saddam's “personal bodyguard and companion throughout the period of his disappearance as he moved from one hideout to another,” the report said. According to the source, Muslit was the link between the former Iraqi President and his relatives and knew of his various hideouts.
He informed some of his relatives of his plans to betray Saddam and “contacted the Americans through one relative he trusted,” the newspaper said.
They agreed on a plan by which Muslit had “to drug the Iraqi President... to guarantee his capture alive, without giving him a chance to resist or to escape from the trap that was laid out for him,” the report said.
The officer “succeeded in drugging Saddam in his hideout,” the report added. There was no independent confirmation of the report. The US army has not identified the person who provided the tip-off on Saddam.
Fresh bout of violence
Iraqi guerrillas killed an American soldier in an ambush in Baghdad, the US military said today, as two assassinations underlined fears internal political divisions could erupt into widespread bloodletting.
The soldier’s death last night was the first combat fatality suffered by US troops since news on Saturday of the capture of ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, and the 199th since Washington declared major combat over on May 1.
In the latest bout of the violence that has gripped Iraq since Saddam's capture, an official of the largest group representing the country’s majority Shias was killed after receiving death threats from Saddam supporters. A representative of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) said Muhannad al-Hakim had been shot dead near his home in Baghdad’s Amil district.
The SCIRI representative said an angry crowd in the southern city of Najaf had attacked and killed Ali al-Zalimi, an official of Saddam's Baath party who played a role in crushing an uprising by Shias after the 1991 Gulf War.
“People surrounded him with guns, and proceeded to shoot and beat him,” the SCIRI representative said, describing Zalimi as a “criminal”.
Political violence has flared among Iraq’s Shias, who make up 60 per cent of the population, since the fall of Saddam, whose government killed religious leaders of a community he regarded as a fifth column linked to Shia Iran.
A US spokeswoman said the latest American soldier to be killed was from the 1st Armored Division. He died in an ambush in the al-Karradah neighbourhood of Baghdad. Another soldier and an Iraqi translator were wounded.