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Official Story on Deaths of Saddam's Sons "Wags the Dog"

by Michel Chossudovsky

www.globalresearch.ca 26 July 2003

The URL of this article is: http://globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO307E.html

Michel Chossudovsky is the author of War and Globalisation, the Truth behind September 11 ,   Global Outlook, 2002 (order online/mail/fax )


The deaths of the sons of Saddam Hussein in a high profile "shoot-out" in the northern city of Mosul arrive at a most opportune moment for President Bush and his entourage.

Political assassination is tied into the logic of war propaganda.  The killings were designed by the Pentagon to uphold the shaky legitimacy of  the Anglo-American military axis in the face of Iraqi armed resistance to occupation forces. In the words of President Bush: "their deaths show that the former Iraqi regime will not be coming back."

By mobilizing media attention Worldwide on Saddam's two sons,  the Mosul event has served to distract Western public opinion from the broader issue of war crimes committed by the Bush administration and its indefectible British ally, not to mention the mysterious death of David Kelly, the senior MI6 official who "pulled the plug" on Tony Blair. 

Meanwhile, the fake Niger uranium dossier, used in Bush's State of the Union address has been quietly sent to the news archives.

The Mosul shoot-out serves to "reduce the heat" and conceal the lies: "The death of the two sons was greeted with jubilation in Washington, where President George Bush has been under growing political pressure..." (Washington Post, 24 July 2003)

While the entire Western news chain is inundated with the same unsavory (syndicated) stories on Saddam's derelict son Uday, the more substantive issue of phony intelligence and WMDs is relegated to the inner pages of the tabloids.

The fact, amply documented, that the war was based on a fabricated pretext is now regarded as a mere technical detail: a 16 words "error" which inadvertently slipped into the President's State of the Union address.  

The Mosul Shoot-out

There are a number of  "holes" in the official story. According to the New York Times (23/0703), it was a "walk-in informer" who contacted Coalition forces. The media described this as an "unexpected tip-off".   

 "Neighbors saw the owner of the house, Nawaf al-Zaydan, and his son Shahlan sitting in American vehicles. People asked him what had happened and he told them that Uday and Qusay Hussein were inside the house. He had gone to bring breakfast for them, he said, when the Americans arrested him." (NYT, 23/07/03)

In fact, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was in Mosul, on the very day this "walk in informer" first contacted Coalition forces: 

Mr. Secretary, Monday, you walked the streets of Mosul meeting people and it turned out that that was just a few miles from this house where Uday and Qusay were hiding. And after you left this informant came forward with this information.

(...)

WOLFOWITZ: Well, actually, I think it was while we were meeting with the town council in Mosul the first informant came forward, I believe. I may be wrong. I'd love to be able say it was because we were there and, of course, it had nothing to do with our being there. (Pentagon Briefing, CNN, 23 July 2003, bold italics added, http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2003/tr20030723-depsecdef0441.html )

Al Jazeera's correspondent in Mosul, describes the events otherwise:

 "Nawwaf al-Zaydan. Al-Zaydan used to tell the neighbours that he was one of the cousins of the former Iraqi president Saddam Husayn, while some of his neighbours say that he is from another area and has nothing to do with the president, but he only claimed this. At any rate, those who attended the interrogation - since he and his son Sha'lan were arrested before entering the house - said that the interrogation took place at gun point. At first, he was silent, but he then collapsed and told the US soldiers that the two sons of the Iraqi president, Uday and Qusay, and his grandson Mustafa were inside the house, in addition to a member of security, whose name is Abd-al-Samad. (See Al-Jazeera Report casts doubt on Official Story concerning alleged Deaths of Umay and Qusay Al Jazeera, http://globalresearch.ca/articles/ALJ307A.html , 24 July 2003)

"Fortified Site" defended by Three Adults and a Teenager

Confirmed by the news reports, there were three adults and a teenager inside the building:  Uday, Qusay, Qusay's 14 year old teenage son, and a bodyguard .(AFP, 23/07/03). Nobody else? no servants, no other armed men, only one body guard.

The official communiqué confirms that there was a  4-6 hour shoot out  involving a massive mobilization of Coalition troops and military hardware. Troops of the 101 Airborne division entered the building. Attack Helicopters were used with 2.75 inch rockets, Humvees were used with TOW antitank systems, mounted with M-19 and 50-caliber machine guns:

  "We fired 10 missiles into the house. We believe the missile attack was what ended up killing Uday and Qusay." ((Pentagon Briefing, CNN, 23 July 2003, italics added, http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2003/tr20030723-depsecdef0441.html )

The US Command claimed to have been under fire from inside the house, and, to defend themselves, they were "compelled  to call in helicopters and tanks to shell the house."  (Al-Safir, Beirut, 24 July 2003). According to an Al Jazeera TV report, the US military "received the information the night before and preparations had begun since the evening of 21 July and from the early morning until nearly 2200 when the storming operation began, and which lasted, as I heard, for four hours" (Interview with Dr Subhi Nazim Tawfiq, strategic and military expert, Centre for International Studies, Baghdad University, Al-Jazeera TV 23 July 2003, http://globalresearch.ca/articles/ALJ307A.html )

" I was surprised at such preparations for killing only four people seeking refuge in an unprotected house. These preparations included armoured vehicles, helicopters, fighter jets, medium machine guns and tanks. A siege could have been imposed on the house using much smaller numbers and weapons and they could have forced them to surrender without killing them. ( Ibid)

The official statement and the reports suggest that there was fierce resistance. An entire platoon was effectively held at bay, Reinforcements were called in 

More than 200 US Airborne troops (according to the reports) equipped with TOW missiles and Attack helicopters were pushed back two times in the course of this six hour period. According to the reports, the building was defended by three adult AK-47 gunmen plus a 14 year old teenager.

The operation also included the use of Special forces, the so-called "Task Force 20". The latter also included a so-called PSYOPS team from the CIA. (Robert Fisk, The Guardian, 23/0703).

Following its initial setback:

 "coalition forces requested additional assets, to include a ground -- a quick reaction force and heavy weaponry,  given that we knew that we had a fortified site that we were going to have to assault." (Pentagon Briefing, CNN, 23 July 2003, italics added, http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2003/tr20030723-depsecdef0441.html )

The official narrative conveys the impression that the assault on the building was being effectively repealed by more than three adults and a teenager, in other words by a number of armed guards.

Two American soldiers were killed in ambushes in Iraq Wednesday, dashing any U.S. hopes that the killing of Saddam Hussein's sons, Uday and Qusay, would snuff out a guerrilla insurgency against occupying forces. A U.S. military spokesman said one soldier was killed and six wounded when their vehicle hit a mine or home-made bomb in the northern town of Mosul, where the brothers were killed in a six-hour gunbattle with about 200 U.S. troops Tuesday.   (U.S. Army) (Photo: U.S. Army)

 

There was a second attack on the building, which was again effectively repealed, despite the use of OH Helicopters firing rockets into the building.

At 1122 hours the second brigade combat team began movement of additional ground forces that included an additional antitank platoon to reinforce the elements that were already on the ground.

At 1145, during this period the commander had decided that he wanted to bring additional assets and we began to employ our OH-58 D helicopters with their rocket systems -- 2.75-inch rockets -- and 50- caliber machine guns to once again continue the prep on the target.

At 1150 hours, we had added an antitank platoon, we had a PSYOPS team on the ground, and all were on station ready for us to continue the assault.

At 1155, the Kiowas completed their preparatory fires.

At this point the commander decided that he would make a second attempt to get inside of the house.

At 1200 hours, we attempted to reenter the house. Once again, we received fire from the second floor as we attempted to move -- after we had secured the first floor -- to move up to the reinforced part of the building.

At this stage, as described in the official statement, the operation called for more reinforcements, essentially to enable the attack to proceed from the the first to the second floor of the building.

At this point, we knew that we had a barricaded site at the top of the stairs and the elements -- the subjects were fairly well barricaded on that second floor. We decided to continue the preparatory fires.

At 1300 hours, we continued the preparation using our 50-caliber machine guns, using our M-19s, and at this point we began to employ Humvee-mounted TOW missiles. We fired 10 TOW missiles into the house.

During this period, we considered employing our Apache helicopters and A-10s to come in and finish the preparation and the neutralization of the target. However, the decision was made not to employ the air power, because of the high risk of collateral damage given the neighborhood density that we were faced with.

At the end of this preparation, we believe that it is likely that the TOW missile attack was what wound up killing three of the adults.

Twenty-one minutes later. at 1321 hours, we entered the building for the third time. At this point, we received no fire as we moved up the stairs.

As we got up to the second floor, the assaulting elements continued to receive fire and they killed the remaining individual that was in the second floor. At this point, the enemy had been eliminated and the building was cleared in its entirety. We completed securing the building at about 1400 hours yesterday afternoon.  (Lt. Gen. Sanchez Briefing on the Confirmation of the Deaths of Uday and Qusay Hussein,     http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2003/tr20030723-0443.html , 23 July 2003, bold added)

"Three of the adults" were killed in the second assault, according to the official statement.  And who was this lone remaining gunman defending the bunker, against several hundred Coalition forces.? According to the news reports, an innocent 14 year old teenager was shot down during the third assault on the building.

They [US forces] hit back with least ten anti-tank missiles and another hail of machine gun bullets. Apache attack helicopters and even A-10 'tankbuster' Warthog planes were called up, with their air-to-ground missiles, rockets and deadly chain guns. 

But they were not needed. When the last anti-tank blast died away, there was silence. 'Even the wind stilled,' said Arif. The gathering crowd had yet to realise it, but three of the four men inside were dead.  Only one - believed to be Qusay's 14-year-old son Mustapha - was still alive. As American troops pounded up the stairs, the teenager loosed off a final shot before he was cut down. (Daily Mail, 24 July 2003)

Political Assassination: No Attempt to Capture

From the outset, there was no attempt to capture the Saddam sons alive.:  "TV images of the house did not suggest that it was a formidable fortress that could be easily defended from all sides - which would force Uday and Qusay to surrender to the Americans after a few hours" (Al-Safir, Beirut, in Arabic 24 July 2003, translation BBC Monitoring). 

Despite the generally supportive tone of the US media,  The Boston Globe, nonetheless acknowledged that:

"the "killings of the sons looks more like a zealous political assassination than a noble act. In 1976, President Ford issued an executive order banning assassinations. This was after the CIA was exposed and embarrassed by schemes to kill world leaders in developing countries. (Boston Globe, 25/07/03)

In the words of South Africa's Mail and Guardian (25/0703)  the killings constitute:

 "thinly veiled extra-judicial executions, [which] are part of a growing pattern of American lawlessness in dealings with the world since 9/11".

Why was there no attempt to capture Uday and Qusay, who could have provided intelligence on the whereabouts of Saddam? During the official press briefing (23/0703), the issue of "capture" and "arrest" was casually dismissed by Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez.  It would appear that the decision to "kill" rather than "capture" was taken at the highest levels of the US military:

QUESTION: General, I'd like to try and see if you could address more of the first question which we had from our colleague up front. The Americans are specialists at surrounding places, keeping people in them, holding up for a week, if necessary, to make them surrender.

QUESTION: These guys only had, it appears, AK-47s and you had an immense amount of firepower.

Surely, the possibility of the immense amount of information they could have given coalition forces, not to mention the trials that they could be put on for war crimes, held out a much greater possibility of victory for you, if you could have surrounded that house and just sat there until they came out, even if they were prepared to keep shooting.

SANCHEZ: Sir, that is speculation.

QUESTION: No, sir, it's an operational question. Surely, you must have considered this much more seriously than you're suggesting.

SANCHEZ: Yes. It was considered and we chose the course of action that we took.

QUESTION: Why, sir?

SANCHEZ: Next question, please.

 (Lt. Gen. Sanchez Briefing on the Confirmation of the Deaths of Uday and Qusay Hussein,     http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2003/tr20030723-0443.html , 23 July 2003)

The Official Body Count

The official report confirmed that there were only four bodies:

SANCHEZ: "Once we cleared the building, we found we had four bodies that were extracted and the bodies were evacuated and moved for positive identification.

We removed the bodies. We brought them to Bayap (ph), where we then proceeded to work on identification. We believe that we have positive identification and that we, in fact, have Uday and Qusay.

The identification was done through multiple means. We had senior former regime members do visual identification of the bodies. We had four individuals that independently verified that we had both of Saddam Hussein's sons.

We also compared X-rays and verified that the injuries on one of the bodies were consistent with the injuries that had been suffered by this individual during a previous assassination attempt.

Also, we used dental records to identify the bodies, and for Uday the match was 90 percent and this was limited only because injuries to the teeth made a perfect match impossible. For Qusay the dental match was a 100 percent certainty.

Autopsies will follow, but we have no doubt that we have the bodies of Uday and Qusay."  (Lt. Gen. Sanchez Briefing on the Confirmation of the Deaths of Uday and Qusay Hussein,     http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2003/tr20030723-0443.html , 23 July 2003)

The press reports confirmed that the bodies were "charred", as a result of the missile attacks:  "four charred bodies were removed and two of them positively identified as Uday and Qusay," (AFP, 23 July 2003)

Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez stated that they were able to identify the bodies of Uday and Qusay, but not those of the other two, which included the teenager. Why this discrepancy?

If indeed the teenage son of Qusay was the last to die in a shoot-out, as suggested by the news reports, one would expect that his body would be easier to identify than those of the other three men, whose bodies had been "charred" as a result of the missile attack.

The official report is unequivocal with regard to the identity of the bodies of Uday and Qusay, while expressing doubts on that of the teenager:

QUESTION: Sir, just on the identification. I mean, were the bodies in such a condition that it wasn't just apparent from looking at their faces who they were?

SANCHEZ: The bodies are in a condition where you could identify them.

SANCHEZ: Any other questions?

QUESTION: Sir, there were reports that there was a teenager among the four who were killed. Any information on who that might have been?

SANCHEZ: We are continuing to work on the other two bodies at this point to get the final confirmation on who they are.

OK, this was easy. 

(Lt. Gen. Sanchez Briefing on the Confirmation of the Deaths of Uday and Qusay Hussein,   http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2003/tr20030723-0443.html , 23 July 2003)

Cold-blooded Murder of a 14 Year-old

Were there other people inside the building?  The official statement does not say.

The official story on the shoot-out, does not seem to tally with the body count. If there had only been three adult gunmen, the building could have been taken in a single assault without the use of rockets and TOW missiles.

In the third assault at the end of this four hour period, the official story suggests that there was one lone gunman defending the building against an entire platoon equipped with missiles and helicopters, etc.

The news reports confirm that: "Mustapha, was the last to die." (the 14 year old teenager). 

What is clear from the official statement,  is that the killing of the teenager by US forces was a gratuitous criminal act. 

Was the teenager given the opportunity to surrender or was he simply shot by US forces?  The official statement confirms that, upon entering the building for the third time, there was no resistance:  "we received no fire as we moved up the stairs. As we got up to the second floor, the assaulting elements continued to receive fire [from 14 year old Mustapha] and they killed the remaining individual that was in the second floor."

According to the official statement, there were no prisoners apart from the owner of the house and his son; no witnesses or wounded from inside the building...


Annex 1

Release of the Photos

The photos of the bodies of Uday and Qusay were released (24/07/03).

What is striking in these pictures is that they do not correspond to the description provided in the official account and press reports, which state that the bodies were "charred" as a result of the missile and rocket attacks.  No photographic evidence was provided regarding the other two bodies, including that of the teenager. 

According to the Al Jazeera Correspondent in Mosul:

"Those who saw the bodies could not recognize them. However, one of the bodies belonged to a bearded man. But the features of the bodies were not recognizable. The interesting thing is that the house is still under siege and no one is allowed to enter it. US intelligence agents stayed in the house for almost five hours and took samples from various parts of the house. They also confiscated videotapes and documents. They took samples from the cars that were parked near the house. There was a car inside the house as well, which indicates that there was perhaps a secret garage for the house to which cars could be driven. I saw a car parked inside the house." ( http://globalresearch.ca/articles/ALJ307A.html )

When 15 "accredited"  journalists were allowed to see the bodies in a tent at Baghdad airport (25/07/03), US military officials acknowledged that the bodies had "undergone facial reconstruction with morticians putty to make them resemble as closely as possible the faces of the brothers when they were alive," (Reuters, 25 July 2003).  (To see photos after facial reconstruction click here)

There was no confirmation as to whether the bodies had undergone preliminary facial reconstruction before the photos were taken.

The bodies were shown with numerous bullet wounds:  "five photographs showing the bloodied and bruised corpses..." 

The official report of the attack states that the "three adults" died as a result of the missile attack, i.e. not from bullet wounds:

  "we believe that it is likely that the TOW missile attack was what wound up killing three of the adults."  (See News Briefing, op cit)  

Bear in mind: this statement, repeated twice during the News Brief, was made after the positive identification of the bodies by the US military. In other words, Lt. Gen. Sanchez is confirming that the three adults, based on the post-mortem, died from the missile attack and not from bullet wounds. 

Yet his statement on the cause of death, which was made prior to the release of the photos, contradicts the photographic evidence presented on the 25th of July.


Copyright Michel Chossudovsky 2003 For fair use only/ pour usage équitable seulement .

Michel Chossudovsky is the author of War and Globalisation, the Truth behind September 11 , Global Outlook, 2002 (order online/mail/fax ) and the Editor of Global Outlook Magazine .

CRG Archive of recent articles by Michel Chossudovsky


Annex 2

Transcript of Official Statement  and News Briefing

Source: Federal Documents Clearing House (FDCH), 23 July 2003.

Also available at  http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2003/tr20030723-0443.html ,

LIEUTENANT GENERAL RICARDO SANCHEZ (USA) HOLDS DEFENSE DEPARTMENT NEWS BRIEFING ON DEATHS OF UDAY AND QUSAY HUSSEIN

SPEAKER: LIEUTENANT GENERAL RICARDO SANCHEZ (USA), COMMANDER, COALITION JOINT TASK FORCE

JULY 22, 2003

SANCHEZ: Good afternoon. Now this is a full house today. Glad to see you all here. I've got some important messages to relay to all of you, to all of our coalition partners and, most importantly, to the Iraqi people.

Yesterday was a landmark day for the people and for the future of Iraq. Every single day we get closer to the secure and stable environment that will allow this country to flourish and assume its rightful place in the region and in the community of nations.

(....)

We continue to aggressively go after former regime loyalists, and in the past 48 hours my forces have conducted over 4,300 patrols and 48 raids.

SANCHEZ: Now I will turn to one of those raids that we executed yesterday that led to the death of high-value targets number two and three, Uday and Qusay Hussein.

First of all, to orient you to the map, at the center of the map is Baghdad on the left-hand side. Up in the north is Mosul. This is the town where we conducted the operation. The operation, specifically, was on the northeastern part of the city. And what you see on the lower right of that chart is the neighborhood with the red square around the house that was assaulted. As you can see from the bottom right-hand side, this is a neighborhood that constrained us to some extent in the application of combat power.

The major forces that were involved were elements of the 101st Airborne Division. We had an infantry company. We deployed OH-58 D Kiowa attack helicopters that come equipped with 2.75-inch rockets and machine guns. We had Humvees with TOW antitank systems, Humvees that were mounted with M-19 and 50-caliber machine guns. We also our AH-64 Apache helicopters on station, however we did not use this capability. And also, we had the Air Force on station with A-10s ready to be employed should the need arise.

Also, establishing the outer cordon, as you can see on the bottom of that slide, was the Iraqi police. They were also participating in coordination with our forces on the ground to complete the cordon.

What you see here is an outline of the house that we assaulted. You see it's a three-story home. And the actual target area was on the second floor which was a fortified part of the house.

Here once again are the forces that were involved in the operation.

The first phase of the operation was what we called setting the conditions for us to conduct the assault. The previous night, on the 21st, we had had an Iraqi citizen walk in and give us information that Uday and Qusay might be located at this residence.

Over the course of the night, we planned our operation and we had all the conditions set in order for us to initiate our assault by 1000 hours yesterday morning.

The 101st Airborne Division had antitank platoons and weapon squads in place, they had established their cordon to ensure that we had isolated the area, and we commenced the operation with an interpreter using a bull horn in order to attempt to urge the targets -- which we were confident were in there; we knew some folks were in there -- in what we call a cordon-and-knock operation.

What we have gone to is this cordon-and-knock versus cordon-and- search. What we do is we will cordon an area, go up to the door, knock on the door and ask to see if personnel that we are after are located in that specific house.

SANCHEZ: In this case, we used the bull horn and we did not get a response. And 10 minutes later, at 1010 hours, we began to enter the building. Immediately upon entering the building, shots were fired. We immediately determined that the targeted individuals were barricaded in the fortified portion of the building, which was the second floor, and they started engaging with small arms. We believed they were AK-47s.

On the initial exchange of gunfire, we had three coalition soldiers wounded on the stairs as we attempted to get up to the second floor, and we had one coalition soldier that was wounded outside the building. At this point, our forces withdrew. The coalition forces requested additional assets, to include a ground -- a quick reaction force and heavy weaponry, given that we knew that we had a fortified site that we were going to have to assault.

Within five minutes, we called in medevac to take care of our wounded soldiers and we determined at that point -- the leaders on the ground that it was appropriate for us to prep the objective prior to reentry.

For the next couple of hours, while we lined up the right resources on the ground, we were taking this at a fairly measured pace. We knew that we had the area surrounded, and there was no rush -- or no reason for us to rush to failure.

We received sporadic gunfire for a while, and at 1045 hours we began the prep, with significant M-19 grenade launchers. We fired a couple of AT-4 rockets at the house, and also used Humvee-mounted 50- caliber machine gun fire to attempt to neutralize the threat.

At 1122 hours the second brigade combat team began movement of additional ground forces that included an additional antitank platoon to reinforce the elements that were already on the ground.

At 1145, during this period the commander had decided that he wanted to bring additional assets and we began to employ our OH-58 D helicopters with their rocket systems -- 2.75-inch rockets -- and 50- caliber machine guns to once again continue the prep on the target.

At 1150 hours, we had added an antitank platoon, we had a PSYOPS team on the ground, and all were on station ready for us to continue the assault.

At 1155, the Kiowas completed their preparatory fires.

At this point the commander decided that he would make a second attempt to get inside of the house.

At 1200 hours, we attempted to reenter the house. Once again, we received fire from the second floor as we attempted to move -- after we had secured the first floor -- to move up to the reinforced part of the building.

SANCHEZ: Once again, we opted to withdraw.

At this point, we knew that we had a barricaded site at the top of the stairs and the elements -- the subjects were fairly well barricaded on that second floor. We decided to continue the preparatory fires.

At 1300 hours, we continued the preparation using our 50-caliber machine guns, using our M-19s, and at this point we began to employ Humvee-mounted TOW missiles. We fired 10 TOW missiles into the house.

During this period, we considered employing our Apache helicopters and A-10s to come in and finish the preparation and the neutralization of the target. However, the decision was made not to employ the air power, because of the high risk of collateral damage given the neighborhood density that we were faced with.

At the end of this preparation, we believe that it is likely that the TOW missile attack was what wound up killing three of the adults.

Twenty-one minutes later. at 1321 hours, we entered the building for the third time. At this point, we received no fire as we moved up the stairs.

As we got up to the second floor, the assaulting elements continued to receive fire and they killed the remaining individual that was in the second floor. At this point, the enemy had been eliminated and the building was cleared in its entirety. We completed securing the building at about 1400 hours yesterday afternoon.

Once we cleared the building, we found we had four bodies that were extracted and the bodies were evacuated and moved for positive identification.

Immediately after this, the 101st Airborne moved task force neighborhood elements, engineer elements into the area along with civil affairs assets in order to be able to clean up and begin the repair of the area in that community.

At this point we continue to secure and exploit and assess the site.

Here on the right you see a picture of the Airborne soldiers firing their TOW missiles at the building. And this shows you some of the destructive capability of those missiles and the end state of the building once we completed securing of the site.

We removed the bodies. We brought them to Bayap (ph), where we then proceeded to work on identification. We believe that we have positive identification and that we, in fact, have Uday and Qusay.

The identification was done through multiple means. We had senior former regime members do visual identification of the bodies. We had four individuals that independently verified that we had both of Saddam Hussein's sons.

We also compared X-rays and verified that the injuries on one of the bodies were consistent with the injuries that had been suffered by this individual during a previous assassination attempt.

Also, we used dental records to identify the bodies, and for Uday the match was 90 percent and this was limited only because injuries to the teeth made a perfect match impossible. For Qusay the dental match was a 100 percent certainty.

Autopsies will follow, but we have no doubt that we have the bodies of Uday and Qusay.

SANCHEZ: In closing, I must reiterate that the war continues. We remain focused on the objective that America and the coalition has put before us: that is defeat terrorism, defeat the Saddam Hussein regime, ensure that they never come back into power and ensure the freedom of the Iraqi people. We will not falter and we will not fail.

And oh, by the way, this morning we picked up number 11.

I'll now take your questions.

QUESTION: I would like to ask you, don't you regret the fact that you couldn't get Uday and Qusay alive? It would have been probably a source of a lot of information got from them both.

Also, wasn't it a failure in a way because you didn't use commandos to come and surprise them both? You conducted [the] operation in the very traditional way.

How would you describe it? All these attacks preparation was only to surround five probably or four people who are armed with large weapons.

And also what about the child of Qusay?

SANCHEZ: First of all, we have confirmation that we've got Uday and Qusay Hussein, and we've got two other bodies that we're continuing the identification process on them.

On whether this was a failure, absolutely not. I would never consider this a failure. Our mission is to find, kill or capture. In this case, we had an enemy that was defending, that was barricaded and we had to take the measures that were necessary in order to neutralize the target.

When you look at the possibilities of what you may have gained or what you may have lost, that would sheer speculation on my part at this point.

QUESTION: Congratulation for your attack, and may God always help you in this hearty work. More thanks for you.

My first question is about the owner of this home: Who does it belong to? And do you take an idea to discussion by yourself or the responsible the attack to take discussion with Uday and Qusay before the attack to get themselves out or really you are going to it, the attack, and it's what we needed all of Iraq? Thank you.

SANCHEZ: OK, sir, as I understand it, you have two questions. The owner of the home; at this point, the 101st is on the ground with follow-up operations in order to take care of the problem that resulted from the conduct of the operation and the destruction that we had to execute in getting to a successful conclusion.

In terms of the discussions, as I stated, we did make an attempt with interpreter and with bullhorns to try to attempt to get a surrender from the personnel that were in the house. And what we got back was return fire. And therefore we had to execute in the fashion that we did.

QUESTION: General, I'd like to try and see if you could address more of the first question which we had from our colleague up front. The Americans are specialists at surrounding places, keeping people in them, holding up for a week, if necessary, to make them surrender.

QUESTION: These guys only had, it appears, AK-47s and you had an immense amount of firepower.

Surely, the possibility of the immense amount of information they could have given coalition forces, not to mention the trials that they could be put on for war crimes, held out a much greater possibility of victory for you, if you could have surrounded that house and just sat there until they came out, even if they were prepared to keep shooting.

SANCHEZ: Sir, that is speculation.

QUESTION: No, sir, it's an operational question. Surely, you must have considered this much more seriously than you're suggesting.

SANCHEZ: Yes. It was considered and we chose the course of action that we took.

QUESTION: Why, sir?

SANCHEZ: Next question, please.

QUESTION: How are you going to convince the Iraqi people that you've, in fact, killed Uday and Qusay? We still haven't seen the bodies yet.

SANCHEZ: In due time, we will provide that to you.

As I stated, we had former regime members that positively identified the bodies. Those are members that are in the custody of the United States at this point and they had access to the bodies and all of them verified that we had the two sons. And also, as I stated, we used medical records and dental records to corroborate what we've got.

QUESTION: I meant how are you going to convince the Iraqis though? Are you going to show the Iraqis in the newspapers or on the radio or on local television anything that would prove to them...

SANCHEZ: That is our next step. And that is working within the Department of Defense, and we will provide follow-on information over the course of the coming days as we complete the autopsies and we complete the site exploitation.

QUESTION: With all these former regime members on the deck of cards that you've now detained, when are you going to show for the average Iraqi person that you actually have them and, you know, bring them out in shackles, have a video camera in the detention center where you have them; something that will show the average Iraqi that has these strange doubts about whether you really are detaining these people that, in fact, you have?

SANCHEZ: We've got that under discussion at this point in time with decisions to be made on the way ahead with the detainees that we have. No policy decision has been made at this point.

QUESTION: (SPEAKING IN ARABIC)

SANCHEZ: As far as personal effects, as I stated, site exploitation is ongoing right now. But we will continue the site exploitation in order to gather what else may be available in the site.

QUESTION: (SPEAKING IN ARABIC)

SANCHEZ: Sir, at this point, we have positive identification of the two sons of Saddam Hussein and we continue to work on getting conclusive identification on the other two.

QUESTION: General, can you provide any details about the role of special forces in both the gathering intelligence for this operation and in taking part in the actual operation itself?

SANCHEZ: Sir, what I can tell you is this was a joint operation that we conducted by elements of the coalition. The intelligence that we gathered was from a walk-in source. That's what led us to the site.

QUESTION: (SPEAKING IN ARABIC)

SANCHEZ: Sir, that is exactly what we hope for.

SANCHEZ: The death of Uday and Qusay, I believe, is definitely going to be a turning point for the resistance and the subversive elements that we are encountering. But our mission is not complete.

We still have other elements and individuals on the high-value target list that we continue to focus on, the mid-level leadership that is still out there conducting operations against our forces, and we will not relent. We will continue to focus until we've accomplished our mission.

QUESTION: In the streets, the people still want to have a positive approval, not just word that you captured Uday and Qusay.

But the bigger question is: What about the money Qusay looted from the central banks? How are you going to follow up on all the money they took out before the fall of Baghdad?

SANCHEZ: I'm sorry, sir, you're going to have to restate the question, because I thought you were speaking in Arabic and that's what was getting out of here.

(LAUGHTER)

So you'll have to excuse me.

QUESTION: OK.

Again, the people in the street still want to have a positive approval that Uday and Qusay have been really killed and that -- one person told me they are like cats with seven lives, so that's -- the doubt will -- it's still in the streets.

My second question is: What about Qusay looted the central bank and the money he took away with him? What is your strategy to recapture and retake all the money they had?

SANCHEZ: Sir, first of all, on the cat with nine lives, we are certain that we have Qusay and Uday.

We will continue with the exploitation of the site. We will continue with the autopsies on the bodies to get final conclusive evidence.

I will await further guidance on the next step to take on how we're going to prove to the Iraqi people that we, in fact, have these two men.

In terms of the money, at this point there are elements that are focused on ensuring that all the money that was looted by the Saddam Hussein regime is brought back to the people of Iraq.

QUESTION: I want to ask you -- my English is not good, but do you know the problem is not Uday and Qusay. Now the problem is Saddam Hussein.

SANCHEZ: Yes, ma'am, absolutely agree with you that the ultimate objective is Saddam Hussein and as I've stated before, we maintain the focus on all of the high-value targets and we will not fail.

QUESTION: I understand that there is still some cordon around Mosul today or parts of it, and that you're looking for additional high-value targets there. Does that include Saddam, or is that this number 11 that you mentioned early on?

the site that we had to assault to pick up number 2 and number 3. That is still continuing, because we're not complete with that site yet.

QUESTION: And number 11 was in Mosul?

SANCHEZ: I can't answer that question at this point.

QUESTION: I wanted to find out, first of all, if you had any thoughts about the Saddam tape that is out today that apparently was made about three days ago?

And secondly, earlier you said that the option to surround the house and wait out the individuals in the house was considered and rejected. Could you explain to us why?

SANCHEZ: The tape -- I can't answer the question on the tape, because I haven't heard or seen the tape at this point.

And the commanders on the ground made the decisions to go ahead and execute and accomplish our mission of finding, killing or capturing. That was a decision the commander on the ground made, and that was the right decision.

QUESTION: What will happen to the bodies that you've recovered after they've been subjected to an autopsy? Where will they be buried?

SANCHEZ: Yes, that's a decision that is yet to be made on final disposition of the remains.

QUESTION: I want to get back to that point of proving to Iraqis. All the Iraqis that I've spoken to today have said they won't accept anything less than pictures proving that Uday and Qusay are dead. However, during the war the U.S. was quite strong on opposing photos or images of dead soldiers being shown on TV.

So do you find yourself in a quandary about how to prove to Iraqis that the two men are dead? And do you rule out using pictures, or are you still considering that?

SANCHEZ: We have not ruled out any options at this point, ma'am. And I don't find myself in any quandary; I'm a soldier.

QUESTION: General, can you describe, discuss the role that Abid Hamid Mahmud, number 4 on the most wanted list, played in identifying these bodies or giving information to coalition forces on the whereabouts of these men?

SANCHEZ: I can confirm that he was one of the individuals that independently identified the bodies.

QUESTION: I just wanted to know did you find any clues or hints or any other elements which show that Saddam Hussein was in that house?

SANCHEZ: At this point we continue to exploit the site, sir, and what we found there is not something that I could reveal.

QUESTION: Who exactly was the commander on the ground?

And how does it come that a question of such wide implication to get probably former leaders for trial is left to a small commander on the ground?

SANCHEZ: Sir, the commander on the ground made a decision based on the conditions that he was facing, and I am in no position to question his decisions. He made the right decisions to accomplish the mission that had been assigned to him and, as I've stated on multiple occasions now, that was to kill or capture.

QUESTION: How has this attack brought the coalition closer to detaining, capturing Saddam Hussein?

SANCHEZ: How has it brought us closer? I'm not sure I can measure and give you a measure there, but I will tell you that our focus is unequivocal.

We know what our targets are. As I mentioned in my previous press conferences before, that we remain focused on accomplishing those tasks. And I'll tell you one more time that we will not fail.

The Saddam Hussein will never come back into power. The coalition has made that statement over and over again that we will ensure the freedom of the Iraqi people; that is our purpose and that what will in the end be accomplished.

QUESTION: (SPEAKING IN ARABIC)

SANCHEZ: There were a lot of civilians on the ground, but no one was hurt. We know of no collateral damage that occurred as a result of the operation.

As I stated, we made decisions on the ground that prevented the employment of combat power that would create collateral damage. So there was no collateral damage that we're aware of at this point.

And I'm sorry, I'm going to have to cut it at this point because I have a couple of other commitments with some other elements of the press.

OK, thank you all very much. We will in due time here in the coming days provide you with additional information on this raid. Thank you all very much. Have a great day.


Copyright 2003 Federal Document Clearing House, Inc, FDCH Political Transcripts For fair use only/ pour usage équitable seulement .


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