Saddam Hussein in U.S. Custody

"Ladies and gentlemen, we got him. " So said the US administrator for Iraq, Paul Bremer, this afternoon, in announcing last night's capture of Saddam Hussein.

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Not a shot was fired during the operation, in which the Butcher of Baghdad was found hiding in a pit in a basement not far from his hometown of Tikrit.

Together with Saddam were captured two unidentified people, weapons, a vehicle, and $750,000 in cash. Iraqi Governing Council head Abdel Aziz al-Hakim was quoted as saying that a DNA test had proven the man in custody was Saddam Hussein.

A video screened at this afternoon's press conference showed a disheveled Hussein with a heavy graying beard, having his hair and mouth checked. At the sight of the dictator being thus humiliated, a number of Arab journalists jumped to their feet in joy, yelling anti-Saddam curses. Hussein's beard was shaved after the brief check-up, and a photo of an older, but more recognizable, clean-shaven Saddam was shown.

Although a top American military official said that Hussein's capture will not bring an immediate end to the attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq, Bremer had some optimistic words: "This is a great day in Iraq's history," he said, addressing himself to the Iraqi people. "For decades, hundreds of thousands of you suffered at the hands of this cruel man. For decades, Saddam Hussein divided you citizens against each other. For decades, he threatened an attack on your neighbors. Those days are over forever. Now it is time to look to the future, to your future of hope, to a future of reconciliation. Now is the time for all Iraqis to build a prosperous, democratic Iraq, at peace with itself and with its neighbors... The tyrant is a prisoner... With the arrest of Saddam Hussein, there is a new opportunity for the members of the former regime to end their bitter opposition. Let them now come forward in a spirit of reconciliation and hope, lay down their arms, and join you, their fellow citizens, in the task of building the new Iraq."


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