News / 

Where Is Saddam?

Where Is Saddam?

Save Story
Leer en espaƱol

Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

(AP) As U.S. troops take over Baghdad and jubilant Iraqis dance and cheer in the streets, the question lingers: Where is Saddam Hussein?

There are rumors he escaped a massive airstrike and is hiding in the Russian Embassy as part of a deal between Washington and Moscow. Some whisper that he and his sons Qusai and Odai stole away to his hometown of Tikrit; others say they were wounded and one of the sons is dead.

The building where U.S. intelligence officials thought the Iraqi leader might be meeting with his sons and top advisers is just a hole in the ground now, smashed to rubble by U.S. bombs minutes after coalition commanders received the report. It's not clear who was killed, and U.S. officials have yet to examine the site because Saddam loyalists still control it.

Baghdad's rapid slide into lawlessness has convinced many that the regime has fallen and its leader is dead. But Britain's Guardian newspaper quoted an unidentified intelligence source Wednesday as saying Saddam "was probably not in the building when it was bombed." The Times of London also quoted an unidentified source, who said: "We think he left the same way he arrived in the area, either by a tunnel system or by car, we're not sure."

When asked about the reports, Britain's Foreign Office conceded, "It is possible that he escaped." U.S. intelligence sources say a witness saw Saddam go into the building Monday, and didn't see him leave before it was hit, but they're not absolutely certain he was killed.

When President Bush was asked about the airstrike Tuesday, he said simply, "Saddam Hussein will be gone. It might have been yesterday, I don't know. But he'll be gone."

Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri hinted Wednesday that Saddam might have taken shelter at the Russian Embassy in Baghdad as part of a U.S.-Russian deal.

"Why did the Russian ambassador return to Baghdad? What did (National Security Adviser) Condoleezza Rice do in Moscow?" Berri asked reporters. "Is Saddam Hussein in the Russian Embassy in Baghdad?"

Russian Ambassador Vladimir Titorenko left Iraq on Sunday, but his convoy came under fire on the way to Syria. He returned Tuesday to fetch a wounded embassy driver who had been treated in an Iraqi-controlled hospital. Rice met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday to reassure him that Washington valued its partnership with Russia.

Officials in Washington and Moscow denied Saddam had taken refuge at the embassy. It's still unclear who fired on the convoy.

But the Moscow correspondent of Arab news channel al-Jazeera quoted a Russian source as saying a U.S.-Iraqi deal for a cease-fire was in the works, and that Saddam's safe exit from Baghdad had been assured in return for a halt to Iraqi resistance. The source, a ranking military intelligence officer, said CIA elements who were in Baghdad before the start of the war were trying to arrange the deal, al-Jazeera reported.

But even without a secret deal, Saddam has survival skills honed by decades of concern over assassination attempts by enemies at home and abroad.

Some say he and his sons were evacuated 100 miles north to Tikrit, the Sunni stronghold where Saddam's clan is from. The dusty desert town, which has yet to be captured by coalition forces, holds some of Saddam's largest and most elaborate presidential compounds. If he went into hiding there, he could easily vanish in the labyrinth of underground tunnels believed to be linking those sites to the eastern banks of the nearby Tigris River.

The town has been hit repeatedly by coalition airstrikes.

The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, one of two main Iraqi Kurdish groups opposing Saddam, claimed Tuesday that he and his sons and many top aides moved to Tikrit soon after the fighting intensified in Baghdad. Other reports say they arrived with injuries, that Qusai is dead, that Saddam and Odai were spirited farther north to the city of Mosul, where U.S. Special Forces and Kurdish peshmerga fighters are advancing. Others said Republican Guards had escorted Saddam to Syria.

A White House source dismissed the idea that Saddam had sought refuge in Syria. "No. He had his opportunity to leave the country," the source said Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity. "He did not take it."

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

Most recent News stories


Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the Trending 5.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast