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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Hussein Body Guard Captured

Aired July 29, 2003 - 19:14   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Now, in Iraq today, a new series of raids in Tikrit netted a former Saddam Hussein bodyguard, but Hussein himself remains at large and he may have recorded a new audiotape.
Coming up we're going to talk with CNN photographer Scott McWhinnie, who shot pick the of today's raids.

But first let's go to senior international correspondent Nic Robertson in Baghdad.

Nic, this latest audiotape reportedly from Saddam Hussein. If it's real it's pretty timely?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is, indeed, and perhaps that's one of the new characteristics that's emerging. This is the fifth tape reportedly coming from Saddam Hussein.

Like the other ones, delivered to an Arab broadcaster here in Baghdad for play out on the air throughout the whole region.

In this one, Saddam Hussein praising his two sons.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Reinforcing recently released coalition pictures of Uday and Qusay following their death, the latest message, purporting to come from their father, notes their passing and praises them as martyrs for Iraq.

SADDAM HUSSEIN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF IRAQ (through translator): The brothers Uday, Qusay and Mustapha, the son of Qusay, have all stood a great fight as believers in Mosul. After a hard fight against the enemy lasting six full hours, the enemy could not get to them after surrounding them with all its equipment until they fired missiles via airplanes.

ROBERTSON: Coalition authorized pictures showed only Uday and Qusay. The new audiotape indicating the former president's grandson, Mustapha, died along with them.

The man, sounding like the former Iraqi leader, thanking God for what he called their Jihad.

HUSSEIN (through translator): Thank God for what he has destined for us, that he honored us with their martyrdom. We pray to him that he will make them happy in the hereafter.

ROBERTSON: Little in this, the fifth such broadcast, that seemed to please those listening to it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Saddam Hussein...

ROBERTSON: "Saddam is nobody these days," this man says. "He has no power no army no friends. What can he do?"

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTSON: Well, unless he's caught, it does seem unlikely that this is not (sic) the last that we'll hear from the former Iraqi leader. Although many of the people we talked to here seem to want to hear less and less of what he's got to say -- Anderson.

COOPER: Nic, for the last couple days the U.S. military has seemed very optimistic. You know, we've heard that the noose is tightening on Saddam Hussein. We hear he's moving every couple of hours.

What kind of evidence have they shown or are they basing these statements on?

ROBERTSON: Well, there does seem to be a momentum in the searches, certainly in the Tikrit area, where Scott has been observing the searches. A very distinct increase in the number of searches in Mosul in the north.

There's been a lot of momentum, if you will, a lot of opportunities, as well, with the capture and killing of Qusay and Uday, perhaps intelligence gathered there, intelligence gathered in Tikrit, as well.

Certainly, the coalition wants to give the impression that the momentum is building behind this, as well. But perhaps the evidence to back it up, we're not seeing that yet. We're seeing some senior people being caught, but are these people actually going to lead the coalition to Saddam Hussein? That's not clear at this stage, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Or even if they're talking very much. Nic Robertson, thanks very much, live from Baghdad.

Now, despite the new audiotape U.S. forces insist they are closing in on Saddam Hussein, as we've just been talking about.

They say that besides capturing a one-time Hussein bodyguard today, they also nabbed two other Hussein associates: a brigadier general and a former security manager for some of Saddam's palaces.

CNN photographer Scott McWhinnie who has gone along with U.S. forces on Saddam's trail, he joins us from Tikrit to share his eye witness account.

Scott, describe to us last night's raid that you took part of. What was it like being on this raid?

SCOTT MCWHINNIE, CNN PHOTOGRAPHER: Well, basically, you're sort of woken up around 3, 3:00 in the morning and sort of you all gather around and get in Humvees.

And then you all just take off and you're traveling done dark, dark streets with no lights and stuff like that. There's, like, dogs coming out and stuff. It's all very quiet and very eerie.

And the sort of the main advance team will just mount the pavement, block the house, and there's, like, Apache helicopters flying above your head and Bradley tanks screaming down the road, as well.

And then they just basically go in the door and grab the person they're after, and then it's all over. It's all over, like, in a matter of five minutes, if there's no confrontation from the other side.

COOPER: And this is, obviously, a raid that has been planned out. They've gone through the motions of it. And it's based on intelligence. That's why I guess they're able to go in so quickly.

I mean, take us, if you will -- you know, it is hot, I imagine the adrenaline is pumping. What's it like, not only for you videotaping these images, but for the soldiers? You know, many of them are young.

MCWHINNIE: Yes. Well, we sort of get into the Hummer and it's all very quiet. No one talks. And you just sense, feel a nervousness. I mean, for me I'm thinking man, "Man, what am I doing here? I should be somewhere else."

But you in there and you're sitting there and you're traveling along and the soldiers are just -- there's no doors on the Hummers or anything like that and they've got their guns at the ready. And you're just sort of traveling along and really it makes you sort of all -- your belly goes funny and stuff.

And you get to your house and it's either going to go all very quietly or very smoothly or it's all going to kick off and go nuts. Everyone -- the soldiers are hoping it's...

COOPER: I understood in the raid that you were on last night this former bodyguard of Saddam Hussein resisted and had to be taken in by force. What happened there?

MCWHINNIE: Well, he put up, obviously, a bit of a struggle. He's not -- he was quite an old man or whatever, but he -- they went in and when he came out, he had, like, cuts on his head where he, obviously, put up a big fight.

But if someone's going to be kicking in your door at 4 in the morning I suppose anyone would put up a fight, you know. But they look after him when he come out and they brought him out.

But usually most of them come out peacefully, but obviously this guy didn't want to go without a struggle, so...

COOPER: Scott, we appreciate you giving us this eyewitness account. We're also looking at your pictures. These remarkable images. I know it's an exciting thing to be a part of.

We appreciate you telling us a little bit about what it's like being on one of these raids.

As the military says, the noose is tightening around Saddam Hussein. The search is on.

Thanks very much, Scott.

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