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Captured: Saddam Hussein, One Year Later


One year ago today, the ace of spades in the infamous deck of 55 cards representing the most-wanted people in Iraq, was taken into custody. Saddam was found by American forces, hiding in a hole not far from where the former dictator was born.

The world learned of the capture of the most wanted man in Iraq, when former American Administrator in Iraq Paul Bremer told a news conference in Baghdad, "Ladies and gentlemen, we got him."

Arab and Iraqi reporters attending the news conference, stood and cheered for several minutes.

Iraqis began celebrating in the streets of the capital.

Baghdad University college student Alia Hadi, remembers.

The second-year college student says she was very glad to see Saddam Hussein on the television, looking confused from hiding in a hole. She says this was the last right of all Iraqis, to see their God punish him like he punished the Iraqis. She says he should be prosecuted and put to death.

At about 8:30 at night, the once defiant 66-year-old former dictator was found hiding in a small hole, near a farmhouse about 15 kilometers south of his hometown, Tikrit.

His arrest occurred as the result of information provided by former bodyguards and relatives of people close to the former Iraqi president.

In his possession was $750,000 in cash, two AK-47 machine guns and a pistol . But, he gave up without a fight. One of the American commanders involved in the capture says Saddam Hussein was "caught like a rat."

With long hair and a long graying beard, Saddam Hussein looked confused and very tired. Within hours of his capture, a videotape was released, showing a doctor examining the former dictator, including an examination of his teeth. It was not an image most Iraqis ever expected to see.

The general manager of Radio Dijla, a station that broadcasts the views and opinions of Iraqis, is Karim Yousef.

Mr. Yousef says many Iraqis were saddened to see Saddam Hussein captured in this way. He says Saddam held the power of Iraq for 35 years and many people considered him to be a brave and powerful man. He says it was sad to see Saddam looking so confused, with his long hair and beard.

Such images of the former dictator angered some Iraqis, who saw the video as an attempt to embarrass Saddam Hussein. However, Baghdad University political-science professor Abdel Jabbar Abdullah, says he believes the images of Saddam were broadcast in an attempt to send a message.

"They deliberately show us this picture in order to send some message, not to the Iraqi people, to all Arab homelands to tell them this is the future of your ruler, unless you cooperate with the American strategy in this region," he says.

Pentagon officials said it was necessary to show proof to the Iraqi people that Saddam Hussein had been taken into custody, because many Iraqis were afraid the former dictator would, one day, return to power.

Today, the former Iraqi leader sits in a jail cell in the Baghdad area. He is expected to go before an Iraqi war crimes tribunal some time in the coming year.

Iraqi officials who have seen the former leader have say he remains unapologetic to the Iraqi people.

But, according to potential future candidate for prime minister of Iraq, Nadim al-Jabbri, whether Saddam Hussein ever apologizes makes very little difference.

Mr. al-Jabbri says he knew that God would create this destiny for Saddam Hussein because he killed so many Iraqis. He says God has always intended to punish Saddam, just as Saddam punished his own people.

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