Saddam Hussein captured Blair says seizure of ex-Iraqi leader is 'good news' for Iraq
Photo courtesy of Reuters
Saddam Hussein stands on a car in northern Baghdad on April 9 in the last available footage taken of the Iraqi dictator before he went underground following the fall of his capital to U.S.-led coalition forces on the same day.
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Prime Minister Tony Blair confirmed Sunday that deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had been captured alive in Iraq, saying in a statement that Saddam was apprehended Saturday night
The seizure of Saddam also was confirmed by the Iraqi Governing Council and the U.S. military scheduled a Óvery importantÔ news conference for 7 am ET,
"I very much welcome the capture last night of Saddam Hussein," Blair said in a statement released by his office. "This is very good news for the people of Iraq. It removes
the shadow that has been hanging over them for too long of the nightmare of a return to the Saddam regime."
"This fear is now removed," the statement continued. "It also gives an opportunity for Saddam to be tried in Iraqi courts for his crimes against the Iraqi people. We should try now to unite the whole of Iraq in rebuilding the country and offering it a new future."
Blair added, "I pay tribute to the work of the coalition intelligence and military forces in capturing him."
The prime minister faced substantial domestic opposition for his decision to commit British troops to the Iraq war and is sure to get a major political boost from the reported capture.
U.S. details In the United States, a U.S. official told NBC News that the military believed that Saddam has been captured although it is awaiting DNA confirmation. The deposed Iraqi leader was apparently hidding in the cellar of a house in Tikrit, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Separately, a U.S. official told the Associated Press that the captured man's appearance did not immediately look like Saddam, but additional efforts to ascertain his identity indicated he was the former leader.
The officials spoke only on condition of anonymity.
Dara Noor al-Din, a member of the U.S.-appointed Governing Council, told The Associated Press that the council was informed of the former dictator's capture in a telephone call from L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator for Iraq.
"Bremer has confirmed to the Governing Council that Saddam was captured in Tikrit," Noor al-Din said. "He spoke on the phone to several members, including Ahmad Chalabi."
Chalabi is a leading member of the council who has close links to the U.S. administration of President George W. Bush.
Another Governing Council member, Jalal Talabani, was earlier quoted by Iran's official news agency, IRNA, as saying Saddam had been captured in Tikrit. Talabani is currently traveling in Spain.
Rumors in Kirkuk Earlier in the day, rumors of the capture sent people streaming into the streets of Kirkuk, a northern Iraqi city, firing guns in the air in celebration.
"We are celebrating like it's a wedding," said Kirkuk resident Mustapha Sheriff. "We are finally rid of that criminal."
"This is the joy of a lifetime," said Ali Al-Bashiri, another resident. "I am speaking on behalf of all the people that suffered under his rule."
Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this story.
------------------ "The only thing necessary for the Triumph of Evil is for Good Men to do nothing."- Edmund Burke
[This message has been edited by M82A1, 12-14-2003]