December 25, 2003


Hunting Hussein Led U.S. to Insurgent Hub: Five Families Believed to Direct Attacks (Alan Sipress, December 26, 2003, The Washington Post)

As U.S. forces tracked Saddam Hussein to his subterranean hiding place, they unearthed a trove of intelligence about five families running the Iraqi insurgency, according to U.S. military commanders, who said the information is being used to uproot remaining resistance forces.

Senior U.S. officers said they were surprised to discover -- clue by clue over six months -- that the upper and middle ranks of the resistance were filled by members of five extended families from a few villages within a 12-mile radius of the volatile city of Tikrit along the Tigris River. Top operatives drawn from these families organized the resistance network, dispatching information to individual cells and supervising financial channels, the officers said. They also protected Hussein and passed information to and from the former president while he was on the run.

At the heart of this tightly woven network is Auja, Hussein's birthplace, which U.S. commanders say is the intelligence and communications hub of the insurgency. The village is where many of the former president's key confidants have their most lavish homes and their favorite wives.

When U.S. forces sealed off Auja in late October, they separated the leaders of the insurgency from their guerrilla forces, dealing the anti-occupation campaign a major blow, said Lt. Col. Steve Russell of the Army's 4th Infantry Division, which is responsible for the Tikrit area.

"It's amazing that all roads lead to this region," Russell said. "It's amazing who lives in that town. It's a who's who of families and a who's who of Saddam's former staff."

Of course, we figured out the five who ran the Cosa Nostra fifty years ago but they're still around.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 25, 2003 11:45 PM

The Mob still exists, but it's a shadow of its former self.

They couldn't even stop Waste Management from taking over all the lucrative garbage-hauling contracts in Manhattan.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at December 26, 2003 10:21 PM