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Saddam Hussein, Sons Alive, says Iraqi Opposition Leader - 2003-06-10


One of the best known opposition leaders during the Saddam Hussein era, Ahmad Chalabi, says the overthrown Iraqi dictator is hiding northeast of Baghdad towards his home town of Tikrit.

Mr. Chalabi, who heads the U.S.-backed Iraqi National Congress, says he doubts the U.S.-led coalition will find DNA evidence of Saddam Hussein. He says the former Iraqi dictator and his sons are alive.

He says Hussein is traveling with his secretary, Abed Mahmoud, and is getting better at hiding northeast of Baghdad along the Tigris River.

"We had several sightings of Saddam in that area," he said. "By the time we learned about them, they were four days old, five days old, the best we got was three days old."

Mr. Chalabi made his remarks in New York at the independent Council for Foreign Relations. He says word has spread recently that the former Iraqi dictator will direct some of the $1.3 billion he allegedly took from the Central Bank as bounty for American soldiers.

Mr. Chalabi defended the information he passed on to the United States on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. He says one of the three Iraqi defectors he provided offered information that led to the discovery of suspected mobile laboratories for biological weapons.

But he urged the U.S.-led coalition to increase cooperation with Iraqi intelligence in the hunt for Saddam Hussein and banned weapons, which he says exist.

"The most important thing to do is to find the weapons concealment team," he said. "Those people will guide you to the weapons. As we said before, the weapons and Saddam are one in the same thing."

Mr. Chalabi was critical of what he described as U.S. reluctance to swiftly turn over political power to the Iraqis.

"Iraqis can organize themselves," he commented. "However, it seems that the powers, the occupation powers, are reluctant to have an Iraqi political process immediately. They have certain concerns and fears and those are being expressed and those are delaying full Iraqi political process from getting going."

Mr. Chalabi denies that he was a so-called "manufactured" political leader when he arrived in Iraq during the war. He says political leaders will emerge through a process of political debate that must get started right away.

Mr. Chalabi also called for the establishment of an Iraqi security force to restore order to Baghdad.

He says additional U.S. forces are not necessary. He says Iraqis should deal with the issues on the streets and described U.S. troops "milling about" as sitting ducks for terrorists.

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