A former dictator on the run with enemy soldiers closing in is hardly a new scenario, but hardly normal either -- despite one commander's understatement: "To us, quite frankly, it was another raid," said U.S. Army Col. James Hickey of the operation that netted Saddam Hussein. Still, some bizarre circumstances surround the capture of Saddam Hussein and new details of the operation are emerging. Col. James Hickey is commander of the Raider Brigade of the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division. He says he knew who the target was Saturday night. His brigade and others had gone after Saddam at least a dozen times. But this night, "There was a good chance that we would be successful because of the source of information and the timeliness of the information," said Col. Hickey. After nightfall, 600 soldiers from the 4th Infantry and Special Forces swept into the farm compound near a small village outside Tikrit.
They found nothing -- at first. They came to a two-room hovel. In one room: Two beds, books, clothes and fresh underwear still in its package. The other room is a kitchen with Spam and Mars bars near the sink and rotting fruit on the floor. "Everyone was surprised how he was living. No one expected him to live like that," said one soldier who was on the raid. Just outside those rooms, soldiers looked around -- one of them standing on a rug. "Didn't have a clue ... Moved back, saw it and heard noises on the bottom," one soldier said. The soldiers pulled up an eight-inch-thick piece of Styrofoam and were about to execute a so-called "clearing procedure," firing into the hole or dropping a grenade down, when someone saw upraised hands -- belonging to a tired, bedraggled, and very wanted man. He had a pistol. He didn't use it. "... Saddam put his hands up and we assisted him out," explained one soldier present.
In English, he said, "I am Saddam Hussein. I am the president of Iraq. I want to negotiate."
The soldier's reply: "President Bush sends his regards."
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