Sunday, September 30, 2007

Saddam Hussein Given Safe Haven in Belarus?

Saddam Hussein has escaped to Belarus – according to mounting evidence reaching DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s intelligence sources.

On March 29, two chartered planes picked up Saddam, sons, families and close aides at Baghdad international airport – as US forces fought their way to Iraqi capital - and flew them to Minsk. On April 2, DEBKAfile’s War Diary reported Saddam had departed Baghdad.

More details of Saddam’s flight appear in issue of DEBKA-Net-Weekly reaching subscribers Friday, April 25


Intelligence examines cargo flight from Baghdad to Belarus

Friday, April 25, 2003

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has obtained safe haven in Belarus, several
intelligence agencies believe.

Western intelligence sources said several intelligence agencies in the
Middle East and Europe base this assessment on new information about a
March 29 flight from Baghdad to Minsk. They said the flight of a chartered
cargo plane could have transported Saddam, his sons and much of his family
to Belarus.

"There's no proof that Saddam was on the plane but we have proof that a
plane left on that day from Baghdad airport and arrived in Minsk," a senior
intelligence source said. "If you can think of anybody else who could
obtain permission to fly out of Baghdad in the middle of a war, then please
tell me." Health insurance for the self-employed: Special offer U.S.
officials and Iraqi opposition sources said Saddam and his sons appear to
have escaped two assassination attempts during the war. But they did not
confirm the registration of a cargo flight from Baghdad to Minsk on March
29, Middle East Newsline reported.

The sources said the cargo aircraft took off from an unspecified
Baghdad-area airport and entered Iranian air space on the flight toward
Minsk. They said Iran did not attempt to interfere with the Iraqi flight.

About two weeks later, a registration of the cargo flight was found by the
U.S. military in wake of the capture of the airport and the rest of the
Baghdad area. Baghdad International Airport was captured on April 4.

U.S. officials said Saddam had been exploring the prospect of fleeing to
Belarus over the last year. They said the Iraqi ruler was in close contact
with Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko and that Minsk became a major
military supplier to Baghdad.

Within hours after the departure of the cargo flight to Minsk on March 29,
the Saddam regime was awash with rumors that the president had escaped.
Intelligence sources said the rumors spread rapidly throughout the military
command and among field officers.

"There was a significant decline in Iraqi combat strength starting from
around March 31," an intelligence source said. "In interviews with
coalition interrogators, Iraqi commanders have attributed the decline in
combat to the feeling that Saddam had fled."

In Washington, Sen. Bob Graham, former chairman of the Senate Select
Intelligence Committee, said on Thursday that a senior Saddam aide had been
captured in Syria over the previous 24 hours. Graham did not identify the
aide, but said he held one of the most sensitive positions in the regime.

The aide was believed to be Izzat Eddin Ibrahim Al Douri, vice chairman of
the Revolutionary Council and the man who spent the longest amount of time
with Saddam in power.

On Wednesday, British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon said Saddam was believed
to be alive and hiding somewhere in Iraq. "In the end we don't know, but it
is still our best judgment that he is [in Iraq]," Hoon said.

"As each day goes by, as we continue to search those places he may be
hiding, we have to keep an open mind, but it is still my best judgment."

On Thursday, U.S. officials reported that Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq
Aziz, regarded as the Western face of the Saddam regime, surrendered to
U.S. military authorities. They said Aziz, who last month had vowed to die
rather than be detained, held negotiations with the United States on the
terms of his surrender.

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