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Iraqi Informant Covertly Videotaped Hospital

Iraqi Informant Covertly Videotaped Hospital

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- An Iraqi working with American intelligence agencies used a hidden video camera to chart a course to the hospital room of prisoner of war Jessica Lynch, providing critical information before her rescue, U.S. officials said Tuesday.

The informant was among several sources who helped the CIA and the military find Lynch, a 19-year-old Army private first class, in a room in Saddam Hospital in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah, officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity. On April 2, American commandos rescued her from the hospital.

After multiple sources tipped U.S. agencies to her presence at the hospital, an Iraqi lawyer identified only as Mohammed told American Marines he saw Lynch being slapped by a security guard there.

To confirm her location, officials with the Defense Intelligence Agency, the military counterpart of the CIA, equipped and trained the Iraqi informant with a concealed video camera.

Officials have refused to identify the informant but said he was not an officer of a U.S. intelligence agency.

On the day of the raid, the informant walked around the hospital, videotaping entrances and a route to Lynch's room, officials said. The Iraqi was paid for his services.

The information allowed American commandos to have a complete picture of the hospital when they went in, officials said.

That night, a team of U.S. Navy SEALs, Army Rangers and other commandos helicoptered under a moonless sky to the Nasiriyah hospital. While troops engaged Iraqi soldiers in another part of the city, the rescuers entered the hospital and persuaded an Iraqi doctor to lead them to Lynch.

After her rescue, Lynch was treated for her injuries in Germany and was brought Saturday to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, where she is recuperating.

Lynch, of Palestine, W.Va., worked as a supply clerk with the Army's 507th Maintenance Co. Her unit was ambushed near Nasiriyah after making a wrong turn on March 23, during early fighting in the invasion of Iraq. Several members of her unit were killed; she was among six who were captured.

Lynch, more badly wounded than the other survivors, was left in the hospital. The five other prisoners of war from her unit were rescued Sunday north of Baghdad.

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

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