Two Years After Saddam's Capture
It was Sunday December 14, 2003. I woke up in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul and was very sick. It must have been the kibbe, which Mosul is famous for, I ate the night before. I must have been suffering from food poison. At about 12 p.m. my colleague Shaz came to replace me as I was heading back to Baghdad for a day or two before going back home in Lebanon. Shortly after Shaz arrived I left with my colleague A toward Baghdad. The trip took us about four hours and we passed through cities and towns such as Beiji, Tikrit, Samarra until we reached Baghdad. On the way we heard a rumor that Saddam Hussein was captured. The first thing we did when arrived on the outskirts of Baghdad was ask anyone about the news. A, an Iraqi who is known as al-Lubnani or the Lebanese because he says it was his dream to be born Lebanese, asked a traffic policeman whether he heard that Saddam Hussein was captured. The policeman replied "that is what I heard." In Baghdad we turned on the radio, since there was no signal on the 350-kilometer long Mosul-Baghdad highway. Then Radio Sawa began their news bulletin with the voice of then member of the U.S.-appointed Governing Council Naseer Chaderchi saying that Saddam had been captured. We could not believe what we heard. We were shocked with the news. We drove to the office and everyone was terribly busy with the news. We watched the television as Iraq's U.S. Governor L. Paul Bremer appeared with several Governing Council members and U.S. military commander Gen. Ricardo Sanchez. "Ladies and gentlemen. We got him," Bremer said. Seconds later fire was opened in the air by thousands of Iraqis in celebration. Shortly afterward, they showed Saddam's pictures with long hair and a beard. In one of the videos shown, a military doctor was seen looking in Saddam's hair. It was clear that the pictures were a message for Iraqis that this is the man who ruled you with an iron fist and fear for 24 years. Saddam Hussein was captured a day earlier before it was announced. The news that day were the most important in Iraq since the Iraqi capital was run over by the Americans on April 9, 2003. Saddam today is on trial by an Iraqi court and he looks much more strong and confident compared to the how he looked.
The last thing I thought that morning or most people in Iraq was that Saddam was captured a day earlier. Everyone was taken by surprise.
The next morning was not quite. Several explosions rocked Baghdad and I went to one of the sites in an northern Baghdad neighborhood called Husseiniyah. It was a suicide attack at a police station that killed eight policemen. As I looked around the stations that was badly damaged a lightly injured policeman called me saying "let me show you something." I walked toward him then he said "look" pointing his index to a head and a foot. "They are of the suicide attacker," the policeman said. It was another shocking image from Iraq that is still very clear in my head two years later.
As the days passed, it became more and more clear that Saddam's capture did not end the insurgency but on the contrary attacks rose sharply since then and they continue.
Baghdad Dec. 15, 2005