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7/31/03 - TRACKING DOWN IRAQI CRIMINALS - 2003-08-01

On July 22nd, Uday and Qusay, two of Saddam Hussein’s sons, were killed by coalition forces. The soldiers were tipped off by an Iraqi civilian, who will receive a substantial financial reward. Since then, other Iraqis have provided tips that led to the discovery of several large caches of weapons and the detention of part of Saddam’s personal security detail.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz says that the coalition is dealing with “a secret conspiratorial criminal gang”:

“I just came back from Iraq after four-and-a-half days. Local people will tell you they’re offering two-hundred dollars to attack a power line, five-hundred dollars to attack an American. So, we are dealing with the remnants of a criminal gang that abused that country for thirty-five years, and I think you have to assume they’re operating like any gang does.”

Its goal, says Mr. Wolfowitz, “is unmistakable”:

“It’s the belief that if you kill Americans, we will leave, and the old regime will come back. People have had enough horrible experiences with that regime. It takes a lot of convincing before they will believe that the regime isn’t coming back.”

These remnants of Saddam Hussein’s regime may not have given up the fight. But, said Mr. Wolfowitz, they are a small portion of the Iraqi population.

“Everywhere we went, not just among Shia, not just among Kurds, not just among Turks, but among Sunni Arabs, we heard repeated expressions of gratitude to President Bush, [British] Prime Minister [Tony] Blair, to the coalition for liberating them.”

The U.S.-led coalition has advertised for Iraqis to join a new civilian defense force. In the first twenty-four hours, seven-thousand volunteered. The goal, said Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz, is to “get American troops into the tasks that they have to do, and get Iraqis out fighting for their country. They’re ready to do it.”