Speed Kills the Enemy

mg class=”picture” src=”/dynmedia/pictures/TB.jpg” align=”left” border=”0″>One of US war commander General Tommy Franks’ favorite aphorisms for his troops is that speed can kill the enemy. He was as good as his word Monday morning, April 7, when he sent an armored column made up of two brigades of the 3rd Mechanized Division in a lightening thrust from the Dora district in the south into the heart of Baghdad on the west bank of the Tigris River on what was first described as a mission to probe enemy defenses.
Interviewed outside Saddam’s official Northern Palace, an American officer said his troops were securing the palace and moving on to additional government centers and symbols of Saddam’s regime.
The real objective, according to debkafile‘s military sources, is not visible on the surface of Baghdad at all. It was carried out by the US 101st Airborne Division: to find a second entrance to the underground system of tunnels leading to Saddam Hussein’s command and control bunker fortress believed to be located about 20 km away to the west. US war commanders are convinced that members of the Iraqi leadership still present in the country and its high command are running the war from this underground headquarters.
That command fortress is also linked to the international airport now in American hands. The opening to one passage was discovered Saturday in Saddam’s opulent guest suite at the airport. So far, American forces have not been able to reach the secret command post from this opening, whether because its passages are blocked up or turning into false alleys. The American 3rd Mechanized Division troops were sent to raid Saddam’s official palace in Baghdad Monday morning to seek out a second entrance. Two hours after the American officer declared the palace compound was in their hands – largely as a means of catching the Iraqi command and defending forces off balance – the US war command issued a statement declaring the operation was an “armored raid” whose military goal was “not to take ground.”
In the meantime, the Iraqi information minister Mohammed Saeed Sahaf denied Baghdad’s defenders had lost ground and said the incoming US column had been “slaughtered”. Speaking to reporters on the city’s eastern bank of the Tigris which is still under Iraqi military control, he declared: “They are beginning to commit suicide at the walls of Baghdad.”
debkafile military sources add that the resistance to the US advance was relatively light because the bulk of Iraqi’s leadership’s defending forces, especially Saddam’s Fedayeen commanded by Uday Hussein, are hunkered down at this command headquarters and three other underground command bunkers spaced out in and around Baghdad. The Iraqis are letting the American in-and-out probing missions go through to the heart of the city, waiting to see whether they retire to the city fringes as they did on Saturday, April 5 or bring in infantry to consolidate positions for a prolonged stay. The American units closing in on other government centers, such as the information ministry, are being closely watched in this regard.
debkafile‘s military analysts estimate that Saddam Hussein does not believe he is finished or that the decisive battle has been fought. General Franks is aiming to prove him wrong by avoiding a single decisive battle and applying one armored punch after another to bring him to his knees and demolish his regime.
No one knows where Saddam is or from where he or a stand-in – his sons or other regime officials – may be conducting the war. Last week, there was evidence he had left Baghdad and that top members of his government had landed at Latakiya in Syria. Saddam himself is thought by US war command circles to be determined to fight on. He may be in Tikrit or somewhere else in Iraq – or even returned to the Baghdad region through the underground tunnel labyrinth revealed first by debkafile.
Saddam’s Black Death Site at Salman Pak
While the world’s gaze is fixed on the sensational developments in Baghdad and Basra, US weapons of mass destruction specialists are using a toothcomb to go through one of the grimmest sites of the Saddam era: Salman Pak, center of biological weapons development and training ground for foreign Islamic terrorists. The site, 25 km southeast of Baghdad, was captured by the American 1st Marine Expeditionary Force last Friday, April 4.
Its situation on a 20 sq.km area inside a curve formed by the Tigris River made it easier for Saddam’s Directorate of General Intelligence to isolate the site, which was fenced off and patrolled by a large guard force. The American soldiers found the buildings of this dreaded place intact, like so many other locations in this war, as though its owners thought they were coming back soon. Two of those buildings are luxury private villas owned by Saddam and his half-brother Barazan al-Tikriti.
Salman Pak is where, up to 1991 at least, the Iraqis developed their biological weapons. Dr. Rihab Taha, known to US intelligence as “Dr. Germ”, engaged in research on a massive scale on anthrax, botulinum toxin, ricin and other poisons to man. Its facilities are expected to yield promising leads to hidden WMD locations around the country.
debkafile‘s military and intelligence sources report that as soon as the advance forces ascertained that there were no guerrilla, suicide or sniper forces in Salman Pak, they sent in special US units created and trained since mid-2002 for the purpose of ferreting out and identifying unconventional weapons. The force made up of American military intelligence, CIA and FBI experts includes some of the finest scientific brains specializing in biological weaponry. Within hours of their arrival, they dove in with their science fiction equipment, attired in what looked like space suits and threw a huge plastic dome over the buildings.
The same swat team when finished at Salman Pak will move their operation to other similar unconventional warfare locations known to exist in Iraq. Their biggest task is likely to be the research facilities and WMD stores thought to be concealed in Saddam Hussein’s underground bunker labyrinths once they are exposed to the light of day.

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