To Be Captured – Preferably Alive

Three contingents of special forces – American, British and Israeli – are revealed by DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military and intelligence sources to be in hot pursuit of Saddam Hussein, his sons Uday and Qusay, and other leading members of the ruling family. The commandos are under orders to catch the Iraqi ruler alive if possible, but kill him rather than let them escape.

US intelligence officials and military commanders are convinced that the capture or death of Saddam would be the cue for a swift coup d’etat to oust the ruling Baath party and render a US war offensive against Iraq redundant. A provisional military government would open negotiations with the United States on terms for removing the American threat of military action.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military sources note the three groups are not in contact with each other. They are coordinated at a senior level through British and Israeli envoys in Washington.

Each is armed with top-secret weapons developed especially for the Saddam mission. The existence of one such weapon was betrayed in 1992 immediately after the Gulf War. A missile designed to penetrate Saddam’s presidential bunker, track him down and kill him, blew up accidentally during a training exercise conducted by Sayeret Matkal, the elite Israeli military intelligence unit for operations behind enemy lines, at the Tze’elim training facility in Israel’s southern Negev desert. Five soldiers were killed and six wounded.

Ten years later, it would be fair to assume that Israel has since perfected a projectile custom-made for targeting Saddam in a fortified underground shelter. The United States is known to have built in the interim smart bombs and missiles that can bust deep bunkers and “sniff out” pre-determined targets, such as chemical or biological weapons. These tracking weapons detonate only upon encountering substances filed in their data banks. A missile programmed to destroy anthrax, for instance, would explode only after detecting stockpiles of the bacterium.

US military planners have long sought ways to locate and destroy stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons without releasing the deadly agents into the atmosphere. A concept developed by the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency and Office of Naval Research envisages the use of a high-temperature incendiary device with a “thermo-corrosive” filling adapted from the Special Operations Command’s classified “Vulcan Fire” program. The weapon would burn at 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit (540 degrees C) and create the type of pressure that prevents remnants of the biological and chemical agents from being ejected from the storage facility on detonation. Disinfecting gas would then be released in a second stage to destroy any remaining biological or chemical agents.

According to DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military and intelligence sources, the hunt for Saddam confronts all three special forces teams with the toughest and most perilous military operation any have ever faced behind enemy lines. Its success hinges on a given unit reaching Saddam’s hideout undetected and staying on his tail without being caught, with the help of intelligence and electronic measures. The United States and Israel have dedicated their best satellite and aerial surveillance equipment to the chase, together with secret laser-operated sensor systems that react to sight, sound and smell.

Coincidentally, a group of high-ranking Iraqi officers is reported by our sources to have secretly put a proposal for Saddam Hussein’s abdication to ruling Baath party leaders, for the sake of saving Iraq from the ravages of war and perhaps even the lives of the ruler and his family. Because word of the hunt for Saddam is known to have leaked in Iraq, security has been stepped in Washington for President George W. Bush, vice president Dick Cheney, top officials, armed forces chiefs and intelligence directors, lest Iraqi agents attempt retaliatory abductions or assassinations.

This danger prompted Bush, in his UN General Assembly speech last week, to refer to the April 1993 attempt by Iraqi military intelligence to murder his father, President George H.W Bush, in Kuwait. He may have wanted to tell the world that America was not the first to opt for the course of presidential assassinations.

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