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Where is Saddam?

Where is Saddam?

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. intelligence indicates at least one of Saddam Hussein's top deputies is alive and is commanding some of Iraq's military efforts.

But senior Bush administration officials said Saturday there was no intelligence that would conclusively determine whether Saddam or his sons, Qusai and Odai, were alive, dead or wounded.

State-run Iraqi television reported that Saddam held two meetings Saturday with senior government members and Qusai Hussein, who had been regarded as his father's likely successor.

Video footage from the meetings was not shown during the initial broadcast. An evening report aired a brief clip showing Saddam chairing a meeting in a military uniform, but American officials said there was no way to tell whether the footage was current or taped before the war began.

"There's no way to date it at all," said one U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "If they wanted to confirm that he was alive, there are certainly ways they could do it, and that doesn't achieve it. They need to do something which has some dated reference."

The official said one other high-level Iraqi leader was known to be alive: Saddam's cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid al-Tikriti, known to his enemies as "Chemical Ali" for leading a deadly 1988 campaign in northern Iraq against rebellious Kurds that included chemical weapons attacks.

Ali Hassan was not thought to be present in the war's opening strike that was aimed at Saddam, the official said. Since the war began, he moves frequently but is still able to provide some direction to Iraqi military and security forces.

As for Saddam, "I have no idea where he is right now," Gen. Tommy Franks said Saturday during a press briefing at command headquarters in Qatar. He said he believes there is "a certain confusion" going on within the Iraqi government as to control, and American forces do not consider their mission to be about Saddam alone.

"It is not about that one personality," Franks said. "In fact, it is about this regime. And so that's what we're going to focus on."

Described as one of Saddam's chief enforcers, Ali Hassan is believed to be commanding Iraqi military and security efforts in a large portion of southeastern Iraq. The Bush administration has said it wants Ali Hassan tried for war crimes or crimes against humanity.

The official also said that as of Saturday morning, the six fighting divisions of the veteran Republican Guard, most of which are guarding the approaches to Baghdad, appeared ready to fight.

Ali Hassan commands the southern sector facing U.S. and British troops in Kuwait. His 1988 campaign against rebels in northern Iraq, in which thousands of Kurds were killed, also earned him the monicker "butcher of the Kurds." He was linked to crackdowns on Shiites in southern Iraq as well.

Ali Hassan served as governor of Kuwait during Iraq's seven-month occupation of emirate in 1990-1991.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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