Myers: Death of Saddam's sons is bringing out tipsters
BAGHDAD, Iraq — The deaths of Saddam Hussein’s sons has created a new wave of informers willing to help American troops, said Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.
After arriving in Iraq on Sunday and talking with soldiers in the north, Myers said that an element of fear among citizens has been lifted.
“What I found today was in the number of Iraqis coming forward,” Myers said. “There’s been a big spike in the numbers that are coming forward providing evidence of weapons caches, of where people are.”
U.S. forces killed Saddam’s sons Odai and Qusai last Tuesday after an intense gunbattle in Mosul.
While the intelligence surge due to the deaths has not led to Saddam, Myers said, it is a matter of time before the former ruler is captured or killed.
“He’s so concerned with survival,” he said. “He’s been through this survival mode before. He knows how to do that. But we’ll find him. It’s a big country, but we’ll find him.”
Sunday’s visit to Iraq was Myer’s second trip to Iraq. He arrived in Baghdad midmorning before traveling to northern Iraq to visit the 4th Infantry Division, which is operating from Tikrit.
He later arrived in Baghdad as part of a convoy of helicopters at one of Saddam’s former palaces, which is now the Coalition Provisional Authority’s headquarters — the main base for U.S.-led rebuilding efforts.
While the hunt for Saddam and members of the former regime continues, American troops are facing almost daily attacks. Five U.S. servicemembers died over the weekend. The latest was Sunday, when a Marine by a bridge south of Baghdad was killed in a grenade attack.
It ended one of the bloodiest weeks for coalition troops since they arrived in the capital in April.
Myers called the attackers “mercenaries.”
“They’re people who are paid money to go attack, and they’re paid more money if they kill coalition members,” he said.
Three soldiers with the 4th ID were killed on Saturday as they guarded a children’s hospital northeast of Baghdad. But, Myers said, the division was “undaunted by the attack.
“They are extremely confident, and they’re capable, and they’re out there trying to make a difference, not only on the security front but also helping town councils to get started and helping economic projects and so forth.”
He pointed to the find of 45,000 sticks of dynamite and a cache of ground-to-air missiles as further proof that more Iraqis are willing to help coalition troops.
It is just the beginning of things to come, Myers hinted.
“More Iraqis now are feeling freer to come forward,” he said. “I mean, fear ruled this country. You wouldn’t dare come forward in the past without fear that your children or some member of your family would be tortured or killed or drug off to jail. So, as you remove elements of fear, things become possible.”