Saddam Hussein was inside the compound destroyed by cruise missiles in the attempted "decapitation strike" on Thursday, US intelligence officials claimed.
The Iraqi leader was thought to be accompanied by one or both of his sons, Qusai and Uday, when the underground bunker in Baghdad was attacked during the opening hours of the war.
But intelligence analysts in the US are not certain whether Saddam was killed, injured or escaped, senior Bush administration officials told the Washington Post. "The preponderance of the evidence is he was there when the building blew up," said one official.
Another official said Saddam was believed to be "at least injured because medical attention was urgently summoned on his behalf". The condition of his sons, and any others who may have been at the compound, is unknown.
The attack on the compound indicated the CIA has made contact with people close to Saddam, the report said. Senator Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that the information about his whereabouts came from "human intelligence".
The bunker was part of a secure compound guarded by the Special Security Organization, which is commanded by Saddam's younger son, Qusai.
After the U.S. air raid on Thursday, Iraqi television broadcast a videotape in which a grim-faced Saddam condemned a "criminal, reckless" President Bush. U.S. officials said they could not be sure the man on the tape was in fact Saddam.
The Post said on Friday the U.S. government was consulting with Parisoula Lampsos, a woman described as a former Saddam mistress who has been able to distinguish the Iraqi leader from doubles in more than a dozen cases.
According to some observers, this kind of reports might be part of the U.S. psychological war against Iraq and its leadership. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )