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The National Security Archive at George Washington University

CONSORTIUM NEWS - Edited by Robert Parry


December 23, 2003

Dec. 14 News Coverage May Buttress Kurdish Claim of Hussein Capture

The Kurdish PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan) was the first to break the news of Saddam Hussein's capture on Dec. 14, some 12 hours before the official US announcement at 3 pm local time in which it took sole credit for apprehending the deposed dictator.

In its first announcements that morning, the PUK claimed credit for at least assisting in the capture. A recent report in the London Sunday Express quoted a senior British military intelligence officer stationed in the Middle East and a former Iraqi intelligence officer now in Qatar as confirming it was the Kurds and not US forces that first captured Hussein.

Following below are the very first reports originating from the PUK on Sunday, December 14, 2003. The reports were first disseminated by the Iranian news agency IRNA and were subsequently picked up by other news services.

What appears to be the very first report in the West:

Iraqi Kurd Leader Says Saddam Captured: IRNA
Source: ONASA News Agency [Sarajevo] via Agence France-Presse

THERAN, Dec. 14 (ONASA/AFP) - Iran's state news agency IRNA said Sunday that Saddam Hussein has been captured in his northern Iraqi hometown of Tikrit, citing Iraqi Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani. "The US forces announced in Tikrit that Saddam Hussein was arrested today," said Talabani, speaking from the Iraqi-Iranian border. "The Americans said they would announce his arrest in the coming hours," added the head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), who was in Iran for a flight to Europe, the agency said. Talabani said he hoped the arrest of the former Iraqi leader would reduce the terrorist attacks and instability in Iraq, IRNA added.

Shortly after that report, the Agence France-Presse correspondent in the area contacted Talabani directly and quickly filed this item:

Saddam Hussein captured: Kurdish official
Source: Agence France-Presse

SULEIMANIYA, Iraq, Dec. 14 - Ousted Iraqi president Saddam Hussein has been captured in a raid by US forces backed by Kurdish fighters in his northern hometown of Tikrit, a senior Kurdish official told AFP on Sunday.

"Kurdish special forces of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) led by Qusrat Rassul Ali along with American special forces, after receiving information that Saddam was hiding in a house in Tikrit [sic: actually 9 miles south of that city], carried out an operation and arrested Saddam Hussein," the senior PUK official said.

The same Kurdish force arrested former vice president Taha Yassin Ramadan in Mosul, also northern [in] Iraq, last August, he added.

Saddam Hussein fled Baghdad before US forces took the capital on April 9.

In Suleimaniya, the northern Kurdish stronghold of PUK leader Jalal Talabani some 330 kilometres (200 miles) north of Baghdad, the Kurdish population was preparing street celebrations to mark the event, an AFP correspondent said.

In Kirkuk, US commander William Mayville confirmed that Saddam had been caught Sunday morning in a house search in Tikrit, city mayor Tahsin Mohammad Ali said.

An AFP correspondent said people were dancing in the streets of Kirkuk, led by the governor and his deputy.

Related Links:

  • Who Captured Saddam Hussein? (Correspondence.Org, 12/21/03) - a phenomenal compilation by Rowan Wolf of available news stories and links on the Kurdish capture of Hussein.


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