A witness tells Asharq Al-Awsat the facts of two meetings with Saddam during the occupation

The first in Fallujah, two days after the fall of Baghdad, and the second in the capital itself, 4 months later

An Iraqi pensioner recounted to Asharq Al-Awsat the course of two meetings he had with President Saddam Hussein, after the fall of Baghdad, whose memory coincides with today. The spokesman, whose name could not be mentioned for security reasons, said that the first meeting was held on the outskirts of Fallujah on April 11, 2003, two days after the fall of Baghdad, while the second meeting was held on July 19, in Baghdad, which was occupied by US forces. . He confirmed that Saddam Hussein was touring Iraqi provinces, supporting “resistance operations against the American occupation.”

On April 6, 2003, at 10:30 pm Baghdad time, a handful of American tanks reached the Republican Palace and the Rashid Hotel in the Iraqi capital. The phone rang of the Director of Intelligence, Lieutenant General Taher Jalil Al-Habush, and Lieutenant General Abd Hammoud, President Saddam Hussein’s secretary, was on the line. Friendliness was absent between the two teams, but Abd Hammoud was the only obligatory passage to receive the orders of the “Mr. President” and to deliver messages to him.

The director of Iraqi intelligence, Lieutenant General Taher Jalil Al-Habush, shows pictures of weapons and bags found in the apartment of the Palestinian leader Abu Nidal, who “committed suicide” in Baghdad August 21, 2002 (Getty Images) and Saddam’s message to Lieutenant-General Taher Al-Habush (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Abed Hammoud delivered a sentence equivalent to a bomb. He told the director of intelligence, “I want you to secure the Baghdad-Saladin road and the Baghdad-Diyala road.” Al-Habush discussed this strange request with the director of his office in the alternative headquarters of the intelligence, and the opinion was agreed, “that Mr. President will leave Baghdad to manage the process of confronting military aggression from outside.”

The retired revealed that Saddam was close to Firdaus Square the moment an American armored vehicle toppled his statue. He added that Saddam led, on the same night, from a nearby secret headquarters, the first operation of the “resistance” against the Americans, which targeted locations of their forces in the vicinity of the Abu Hanifa al-Nu’man mosque in Adhamiya, and he almost personally participated in the attack, but his companions prevented him out of fear for him.

He stated that Saddam left Baghdad the next day for Hit, where he spent the night and then moved to Fallujah, where he chaired, in the presence of his son Qusay and security and partisan officials, a meeting during which he called for ambushes for the American forces “so that they know that Iraq is a difficult morsel.” He said that Saddam went to Baghdad the next day, and met at an alternative headquarters in the Dora region, the accountants of the Presidential Court, and obtained from them an amount of one million and 250 thousand dollars, and signed a paper aimed at “perpetuating resistance operations against the American occupation, and I must return them in the shortest possible time.”

The retiree recounted that he was summoned to a meeting held in a secret house in Baghdad after the dawn prayer on July 19, and found himself in front of the Iraqi president. In the meeting, Saddam’s speech showed feelings of disappointment from some inside and outside, and he asked: “Why does the burden of confronting the occupation lie on the shoulders of some provinces, when we participated as a people in the battle of al-Qadisiyah,” referring to the war with Iran. Saddam criticized clerics, references and clan leaders for not participating in resisting the occupation “contrary to promises they made”. He repeated that Iraq is not Saddam Hussein, but rather the king of Iraqis and Arabs, pointing out that the fall of Iraq would mean the extension of Iran’s influence to Morocco.

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