Dispatches > The Buzz

Two down

The killing of Saddam's top henchmen could derail the sabotage plan that has claimed U.S. lives

Issue: "California's total recall," Aug. 2, 2003

This is not how the war plan goes. Saddam Hussein arranged for a shadow government working in postwar Iraq to unhinge the U.S. occupation, not succumb to it. According to a January 2003 memo labeled "Top Secret" and found in Iraqi intelligence files, government agents would carry out a 10-point plan that included:

"Looting and burning of all state agencies connected with our directorates and other [government agencies]"

"Changing residence from time to time"

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"Destroying power generating stations"

"Destroying water installations"

"Mobilizing of dependable elements and bringing them into mosques"

"Joining the religious centers in Najaf"

"Joining the nationalist and Islamic parties and groupings"

"Cutting off internal and external communications"

"Purchasing stolen weapons from citizens"

"Establishing close ties with those who are returning from outside the country"

"Assassination of imams and preachers of mosques"

The directive, published on July 12 in a London-based Arabic paper, bears resemblance to the stealth resistance U.S. forces have met since the march to Baghdad commenced nearly five months ago.

Has the guerrilla warfare been part of an organized scheme? That should become evident, now that Saddam's sons Uday and Qusay are out of the picture. Both men were confirmed dead after a U.S. raid on a family home in Mosul.

Their deaths followed a lengthy gun battle with U.S. soldiers who stormed a three-story villa in the northern city on July 22. Mosul is not only oil-rich but Wahhabi-strong, a hotbed of Saudi-imported extremism and ill temper. Islamists stoned Christians leaving a worship service last September, and nuns wearing habits cannot get rides from taxi drivers.

The United States put a maximum $25 million reward out for Saddam, and $15 million for the sons, Saddam's Nos. 2 & 3 hit men. "Know where Saddam is? It's worth $25m" reads a banner ad run repeatedly by the coalition provisional authority. U.S. forces indicated they will pay the Iraqi informant who led them to the hideout of Uday and Qusay.

The sons' deaths should behead Iraq's already defeated regime at its brutal core. Both men built extravagant homes and imported cars and women using their father's ill-gotten wealth. Uday wielded a weighty portfolio, including control of military police and intelligence under Saddam, command of major newspapers in Baghdad, and a reputation for crudely terminating the opposition. The January memo was likely his creation, a fallback plan to snatch defeat from the jaws of U.S. victory.

In the United States, Democratic leaders seem to be doing the same thing to their political careers. As members of the 101st Airborne fought Iraqis in Mosul, Rep. Dick Gephardt told the San Francisco Bar Association that U.S. action in Iraq represented a "surge of momentary machismo." Even though Mr. Gephardt supported the war in Iraq, he criticized the staying power of the Bush administration in the face of Iraqi resistance. The imagination reels at what Democrats will claim when Saddam himself is towed in.


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