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Last Updated: Monday, 15 December, 2003, 19:48 GMT
Reporters' Log: Saddam's capture
BBC correspondents around the world reported on the dramatic capture of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. We logged their reports during a momentous 48 hours.

Beirut :: Kim Ghattas :: 1930GMT

More than a day after seeing a haggard looking, dishevelled Saddam Hussein on television, it's still hard to believe that it's really over. I've lived in this region all my life and even after Baghdad fell, somehow, I could still not imagine a Middle East without Saddam. There's talk of a new era dawning on the region.

Syrian television made sure not to show jubilant Iraqis dancing on the streets of Baghdad and Najaf. It feels like not much has changed. But here and there, there are also whispers, even in Damascus: If it could happen to Saddam, it could happen to any Arab leader.

Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 1735GMT

There've been a number of demonstrations in places like Fallujah, west of Baghdad, and Tikrit, of small groups of people who refuse to believe that Saddam Hussein has been captured. No surprise there I guess because this is a place where rumour and fact are interchangeable.

And no surprise on the locations. These are places where people literally earned their living from the Ba'athist regime.

Basra :: Dumeetha Luthra :: 1730GMT

Yesterday the people of southern Iraq celebrated Saddam's capture, while ashamed at his humiliation. Today they want retribution. They don't want to see him paraded in some distant law court. They want him in front of them where they can personally settle their scores and vent the anger for a lost generation.

Baghdad :: Chris Hogg :: 1710GMT

We've heard different comments from various members of Iraq's Governing Council, some saying that they would like to see a trial within weeks, others saying that it may take months. The other big question is whether Saddam Hussein will face the death penalty. This is a very difficult issue for the Iraqi authorities and the Coalition.

Baghdad :: Caroline Hawley :: 1645GMT

The Americans had warned that the violence in Iraq wouldn't stop with the arrest of Saddam Hussein. They were right. The two bombs went off just half an hour apart, a message it seems from the militants that they intend to fight on.

There's also been a small demonstration in support of the dictator in his home town of Tikrit, not far from the hideout where American troops found him on Saturday night.

Washington D.C. :: Jon Leyne :: 1630GMT

The Americans had an outline plan they agreed with the Iraqis even before the capture of Saddam Hussein, for the trial of other members of the regime. Its basically Iraqi tribunals but with an international element, international advice and assistance, and even possibly international judges who can be invited onto the panels by the Iraqis. And one suspects that Washington will be now be saying to the Iraqis very strongly, can they invite one or two judges onto the panel because that will help them a lot with international opinion.

London :: Guto Harri :: 1555GMT

It is true that Tony Blair had no idea until he was told yesterday over breakfast that there was any move to capture Saddam Hussein. It came out of the blue, so perhaps he doesn't know quite what's going on. But what he is trying to make clear, beyond trying to use it as a peg to create a bit more political momentum there, is that there should be a cathartic process in Iraq. And in the end arrive at whatever justice they feel is suitable for him.

London :: Guto Harri :: 1530GMT

We can safely assume that the tone of the prime minister's statement to the Commons will be very sober. He doesn't want to be seen to be rejoicing, at least in open. But Tony Blair is a very relieved and happy man today. Though there will be people there opposite him and on the Labour benches behind him who will probably want to ask some tough questions about the problems that remain in Iraq.

London :: Brian Hanrahan :: 1450GMT

I think the sequence of pictures of Saddam being given a medical examination, were shown on television for a quite deliberate purpose. It was intended to show the local population that they had got him, he was in their power, and they could do anything with him they like.

In other words, this man whom you respect and revere not only surrendered without a shot, he's totally humiliated and powerless. He's finished.

Baghdad :: Caroline Hawley :: 1420GMT

What we've been hearing from members of Iraq's Governing Council here is that Saddam Hussein could go on trial at a special tribunal as early as the next few weeks. This tribunal was set up last week and at that time they thought they'd have to try Saddam in absentia. Now it looks like the timetable for when this special tribunal might sit could be brought forward.

Washington D.C. :: Jon Leyne :: 1410GMT

Saddam is still officially at an undisclosed location, though we have heard those reports that he's gone to Qatar. My feeling is that he's not there as their could be legal complications if he's taken out of the country. Imagine for example, if somebody applied to a Qatari Judge for some kind of legal order.

Ad Dawr, Tikrit :: James Rodgers :: 1330GMT

I've just seen the hole where Saddam Hussein was captured. The entrance to the hideout is cramped. The room below is dark, the ceiling low. A ventilation pipe sticks out of the ground nearby. Across a small courtyard there's a hut with two rooms - a bedroom and a kitchen - where there are egg shells on the floor and a couple of sausages in a packet on a shelf. It's not a picture of despotic luxury.

The hideout itself is isolated but residents of the nearby village of Ad-Dawr are proud that Saddam Hussein was nearby. A small crowd gathered to chant his praises and expressed support for continuing resistance to the US-led occupation.

Washington D.C. :: Jon Leyne :: 1230GMT

We're getting news out of Iraq now saying that Saddam has been divulging information leading to the capture of key rebel leaders. So it's clear he has been cooperative. He's been talking, some of which has been messages of defiance.

London :: Guto Harri :: 1150GMT

The British Government is very keen that the trial will be conducted on behalf of the Iraqi people, by the Iraqi people. They think there might be some international element in terms of checking that it's fair. The point about the Iranians wanting a say in all of this was put to a spokesman from Downing Street, and he stuck to his guns. That's the view of the British Government and for everyone else it seems to be "tough".

Washington D.C. :: Jon Leyne :: 1135GMT

President Bush's ratings have already gone up by four points following this news. Not a huge jump, but interestingly the numbers in the poll about people who thought going to war was a good thing or not hasn't changed. 53% agree that war with Iraq was worth fighting, 43% think it wasn't worth fighting. So the country is still divided and wary of the task ahead.

It's emerged this morning that on Sunday President Bush decided not to be seen going to Church, because he didn't want those pictures to be the first thing television viewers saw when the news broke of Saddam's capture. So perhaps a degree of sensitivity there that wasn't seen early on in the war on terror when he was talking about 'crusades'.

Tehran :: Jim Muir :: 1105GMT

The news of Saddam Hussein's capture has resonated across Iran. For years he's been a target of hatred here, not just officially inspired by the regime but deeply felt by many ordinary people whose lives were scarred by the war he launched in 1980.

But the deep divisions between hardliners and reformists is reflected in the way their newspapers deal with events. For the right wing papers the main emphasis is on the war of the 1980s and the United States' role in backing Saddam Hussein at that time. One carries the headline "Saddam returns to the arms of America".

But the reformists take a different tack, stressing the unpopular dictatorial nature of Saddam's power. "This is the fate of those who don't have the support of their people", one reformist daily says, drawing a thinly veiled parallel with the situation in Iran itself, where a powerful hard line minority have been blocking the wishes of the elected reformist majority.

Berlin :: Ray Furlong :: 1050GMT

We've heard Joshka Fischer the Foreign Minister saying that he congratulated the Americans on this, that it was a good thing for Iraq, but he hoped it lead to a quicker transfer of power. So he was highlighting the ongoing divisions between Germany and the United States over Iraq policy.

Paris :: Caroline Wyatt :: 1045GMT

I don't think the French or the Germans ever said that Saddam Hussein was a good thing, so it's not entirely contradictory that now he's been captured they're pleased. France is saying that the war has happened, ok they didn't agree with it, but at this stage the Americans should be handing over power more quickly. Mr Chirac has been making clear that he hopes the capture of Saddam will allow the Iraqis to seize their own destiny and become a democratic nation much more quickly.

Ad Dawr, Tikrit :: James Rogers :: 1035GMT

This is a pretty poor village, but with a lot of Saddam loyalists living in it.

The farmhouse where they found Saddam is set away from the rest of the village, it's in open country. If you wanted to avoid detection it's not a bad place to put yourself. But it seems that the rumours of his presence got out. Some people in Ad Dawr told me that there were stories going round as early as the middle of last week that Saddam had chosen the edge of the village for his hide out.

The Americans are being very tight lipped on how they got their tip off regarding Saddam's whereabouts. I think there has to be a suspicion that he was betrayed for them to get that kind of pinpoint information.

Baghdad :: Jo Floto :: 1010GMT

It's business as usual as far as the attacks on the American forces and their allies are concerned. We've had two car bomb attacks on police stations in and around Baghdad this morning, which appear to be coordinated. Bear in mind that yesterday 17 Iraqi policeman died in a devastating car bomb attack about 60 kilometres west of Baghdad.

That is a fact that most people aren't aware of because of the tremendous news yesterday that overshadowed that, of Saddam Hussein's capture.

Downing Street, London :: Guto Harri :: 0915GMT

It sounds wonderful in theory that the Iraqi people, as they move towards becoming a sovereign democratic nation, have this cathartic process of going through all those miserable years under Saddam Hussein, and ending up with justice being done according to the rule of law. But I think this will be one of those that prove hard to nail down in practice.

Yes they want the trial to be conducted by the Iraqis, but they want it to look like a proper trial. Not just a room full of Iraqi people with a grudge to bear who simply ask this captor "are you Saddam Hussein, right, off to the gallows."

Baghdad :: Caroline Hawley :: 0910GMT

Earlier I spoke to an Iraqi security guard who told me that his biggest fear now is that Saddam Hussein's supporters will take revenge for the humiliation of their leader. But the car bombs this morning could equally be the responsibility of any of the other disparate groups that are involved in the resistance who want to say "Saddam's gone, but we're here, still fighting against the American occupation."

Tikrit :: James Rodgers :: 0905GMT

I've only had the chance to talk to a few people this morning, but I think that there are two emotions. One is sadness, the other is astonishment. People are sad he was captured, many people still think of him as the president of Iraq. And astonishment because of the manner in which it happened.

Tikrit :: James Rodgers :: 0815GMT

People in the village say they had been hearing rumours for four or five days that Saddam Hussein was in the area. The United States forces of course, suspected that he moved around a lot - that he never stayed in any place for longer than a few hours for fear of being caught.

People in this area are clearly disappointed that Saddam Hussein was caught and disappointed and surprised by the nature of the way that he was finally captured. I was talking to a man this morning who was saying "Why didn't Saddam Hussein resist the Americans, why didn't he shoot at them?" You must imagine that these people who lived for decades under his iron rule, suddenly to see this bearded, bedraggled old man, completely humiliated at the hands of his enemies.

London :: Paul Adams :: 0810GMT

Ambivalent is the right word to describe Iraq today. We haven't seen hundreds of thousands of people on the streets. We didn't when Saddam's statue fell in April and we haven't now. This isn't like the fall of Ceausescu. Because Saddam has held this country in his thrall for 30 years, and the vast majority of Iraqis have grown up knowing nothing else, they're wondering where their loyalties lie now.

There's a mural of Saddam in Basra with most of the face obliterated, but the eyes remaining. That's very telling, almost as though Saddam were gone, but somehow he was still watching over Iraqis. That is now the thing that has been removed.

Now the scientists, who haven't been very forthcoming about what they knew about the weapons of mass destruction, largely because they felt Saddam's apparatus was still out there, maybe they will be more free to talk now.

Baghdad :: Caroline Hawley :: 0600GMT

There's been shock and disbelief at just how Saddam was captured - the man who'd lived in marbled palaces found dishevelled and disoriented in a hole. For many, it was shameful to see any Iraqi brought so low. But there's widespread jubilation that Saddam Hussein, who inflicted so much suffering here, will be brought to justice

Washington :: Justin Webb :: 0430GMT

Time Magazine, quoting an unidentified US intelligence official in Iraq, has reported that Saddam has denied during initial interrogation that he had possessed weapons of mass destruction when the war began.

Sydney :: Phil Mercer :: 0056GMT

Eight hundred and fifty Australian military personnel are still stationed in the Gulf and the authorities here have said they have no immediate plans to bring them home. Many Iraqis living in Australia have reacted with jubilation at the news of the capture. One man said it was a very happy moment and one he'd been dreaming of for many years.


Basra :: Dumeetha Luthra :: 2000GMT

There's music playing all around Basra tonight and people have been dancing in the streets. No one here is sorry to see Saddam go, and they are celebrating in style. It is a hugely symbolic moment. But amongst the jubilation, there is a mixture of regret. The Shia south suffered some of the worst atrocities of Saddam's regime. But today they saw the man who had been plastered on every wall and stood in every town square on his knees without dignity.

Pentagon, US :: Nick Childs :: 1845GMT

Donald Rumsfeld, US Defence Secretary, has issued a statement calling this a momentous day for the Iraqi people. He says the Iraqi people have now been liberated in spirit as well as in fact. As Iraqis celebrate, he says members of the coalition stop to remember the many forces who gave their lives to make this moment possible and give thanks for "all the brave young men and women in uniform from 34 nations who are serving in Iraq today".

Downing Street, London :: Guto Harri :: 1805GMT

The jubilation did bubble to the surface this morning when Tony Blair could hardly contain himself, confirming the news himself before practically anybody else. He was keen to get President Bush on the telephone pretty pronto this morning.

Of course, they had discussed in the past what they would do if, in their wildest dreams, Saddam Hussein was captured. The message agreed between both of them was that anybody talking about this around the world, whether in Baghdad, Washington or London had to echo the same sentiment. No triumphalism, but rather talk about an opportunity for the Iraqi people, and a trial that will be recognisable by international norms.

Paris :: Hugh Schofield :: 1745GMT

Whether Saddam's capture will be the dramatic sea change in the situation that some hope for remains to be seen, and the French Government have a more cautious approach to this. But they also take the view that if this can be built on, and if the cause of reconciliation can be encouraged amongst those in Iraq who had a lingering sense of loyalty, then the cause of stability will be furthered.

London :: John Simpson :: 1735GMT

Saddam's capture is an extraordinary melodrama. Ad Dawr, where he was caught, was where he was born, where his appalling stepfather used to humiliate him and beat him. It was a place that he hated. One of his confidantes told me that when he drove past it he would turn his face away, he wouldn't look at it.

To be caught there, with a pistol in his possession, yet not kill himself or defend himself, is a remarkable end to an extraordinary life.

Jerusalem :: Barbara Plett :: 1730GMT

I would say there are mixed views here on the street to Saddam's capture. There isn't widespread rejoicing here. There's a sombre mood amongst Palestinians who believed that he supported their cause, unlike other Arab leaders who they think have sold out on them.

In the wider Arab world many people saw him as an Arab nationalist, who would stand up to the Americans. They were disappointed that he didn't put up more a fight.

And even those who were happy to see the back of him would have preferred not to see him captured by the Americans. Seeing him dishevelled and unkempt is in some ways a humiliating experience for Arabs.

Baghdad :: Caroline Hawley :: 1720GMT

Many people here in Iraq have been shocked by the indignity of Saddam's arrest.

Across the country we've seen scenes of celebration. I'm wearing body armour now as there has been celebratory gunfire for much of the day. This is really a hugely powerful symbolic day that people have been looking forward to.

Washington D.C. :: Justin Webb :: 1705GMT

There is no doubt this is a major political boost for President Bush. The man who is likeliest to become the Democrats' nominee for next November's presidential election, Howard Dean, is an anti war person. Not all the Democrats are, but Howard Dean is very anti war and has been extremely critical of the White House and suggested that they have got bogged down in Iraq since the war.

Now, it is very difficult for him. He is actually meant to be meant to be making a major foreign policy speech tomorrow and he will find the wind taken out of his sails. Possibly not for long, but certainly in the next few weeks.

Baghdad :: James Rogers :: 1700GMT

When that videotape (of Saddam's capture) was first shown, some people quite honestly could not believe their eyes. Some, particularly the Iraqi journalists, were completely overcome with emotion. One gentleman leapt to his feet and began shouting, and then fell to his chair again apparently bursting into tears.

People in the coalition and in the streets of Iraq did not expect Saddam Hussein to be captured alive. Now that he has been captured in an apparently humiliating way, we see this rather tired old man with a long beard from his many days on the run. People are really surprised to see this man who set himself up for so many years as the strong man of this country, who ruled it with an iron fist - the supreme dictator - now reduced to hiding in a hole in the ground.

Major General Ray Ordierno, referring to that, in a twist of irony said that he was hiding in a hole in the ground just across the river from where he lorded over his people in luxurious palaces.

Downing Street, London :: James Landale :: 1655GMT

Tony Blair said Saddam's capture was good news for the Iraqi people, but its also good news for him. For months the failure to find weapons of mass destruction, the worsening security situation and the lingering questions of the Hutton Inquiry have combined to put the prime minister on the back foot over Iraq. Now he's hoping that today's events will turn the debate back in his favour and heal a few wounds in the Labour party.

Baghdad :: James Rogers :: 1635GMT

Saddam Hussein was an inspiration to some extent for the continuing attacks on the coalition. He has a lot of tribal and family ties north of Baghdad, and a lot of Baath party supporters. And that area, the so called 'Sunni Triangle' is where coalition troops have suffered the fiercest attacks on them. But they've also laid some of the blame on foreign fighters who've come into the country. Because if you're in the Middle East and you want to attack US forces, Iraq is now the place to do it.

Jerusalem :: Magdi Abdelhadi :: 1605GMT

Here in Israel, Saddam Hussein was seen as a sinister threat. The primary aim of the former Iraqi leader's pursuit of long range missiles was to target Israel. During the 1991 Gulf War he ordered Scud missile attacks on Israeli cities causing several casualties. For people on the streets here, the name Saddam Hussein is synonymous with terrorism. But for some Palestinians at least, he is still an Arab hero.

But Israel's worries about its eastern front are not over. The current instability in Iraq and fears that Iran might one day develop a nuclear weapon will continue to cause concern.

Damascus :: Kim Ghattas :: 1550GMT

It's been very difficult for the Syrians to come to terms with the fact that the region is changing. They've seen what's happened next door, but it's taken them quite a few months to realise that the Americans are very serious. We've just had the Syria Accountability Act signed into law by President Bush, which will possibly see sanctions imposed on Syria.

So there is definitely a sense that the pressure is mounting and that they have to do something to make sure they don't end up on the wrong side of history, which is something that the Americans have said again and again.

London :: Guto Harri :: 1535GMT

There are some people in the Labour party who will never be won over by Tony Blair. Then there are others who were just about with him when the shooting started. They thought that if the war helped to rid the world of Saddam Hussein, then they could support that. Today helps bring them on board.

The trouble is there are still others who are preoccupied with the reasons we went to war. They say that we didn't go to war to get rid of Saddam Hussein and capture him this morning, we went to war to find the weapons of mass destruction. And they believe we went to war on a false premise.

Basra :: Dumeetha Luthra :: 1520GMT

At the moment I'm seeing cars with Iraqi flags waving, and lots of crowds in the streets.

I think the Shia community in Iraq will want to see redress by Iraqis, and for Saddam to stand trial. They don't want to see Saddam in American hands for too long because while they're glad that he's gone, they also feel that they are in an occupied country.

Tehran :: Jim Muir :: 1515GMT

In Iran memories of the eight devastating years of war with Iraq in the 1980's are still fresh. It's referred to here as the "imposed war" and it was Saddam who imposed it, by invading Iranian territory in 1980 in the hope of puncturing the Islamic revolution. So despite official hostility to the United States, neither in official circles or among ordinary people, is there any sympathy at all for the ousted Iraqi ruler.

Downing Street, London :: Laura Trevelyan :: 1455GMT

Tony Blair's tone was very sober, very reflective. There was none of the triumphalism of Paul Bremer. The key word in what he was saying was "reconciliation". What Downing Street is hoping now is that the capture of Saddam will unlock all that resistance on the ground.

Iraq is still a hugely tricky subject for the prime minister. No weapons of mass destruction have been found and the Hutton Inquiry into the death of the scientist Dr David Kelly is due in January.

Kuwait City :: Chris Hogg :: 1435GMT

No surprise that Saddam's capture has been welcomed by many ordinary Kuwaitis. As the news began to spread there was little evidence of public celebration, no horns blaring or flags waving. Simply quiet satisfaction that the dictator was a threat to them no more.

The reality though is that for many here the celebrations have been tempered by the losses they suffered at the hands of the Iraqi army. Hundreds of Kuwaitis went missing after the first Gulf war, most are feared dead. What they will want to know from Saddam Hussein is what happened to their fathers, their brothers and their sons.

Baghdad. :: Caroline Hawley :: 1415GMT

Just this week there was a special tribunal set up to try members of Saddam Hussein's regime, and there was talk of trying Saddam 'in absentia', because nobody believed he would be caught.

There's a very controversial question now, which isn't yet resolved, which is will this tribunal order the death penalty? There are many people who've suffered under him who've told me over the last week that they want "merciless justice" to be applied, an eye for an eye.

Washington D.C. :: Nick Childs :: 1410GMT

We haven't yet heard in public from President Bush, in part because it's still fairly early on a Sunday morning here. What we have been told is that he views this as a great day. But the White House is still calculating how it's going to respond. It wants to get the message out that while this could be a critical turning point in the Iraqi resistance, they don't believe it will mean an immediate end to Iraqi attacks.

Baghdad :: Caroline Hawley :: 1350GMT

We've seen Saddam Hussein not fighting to the end as he always vowed he would in the many months leading up to the war, but go into hiding. And then turn himself over without a single shot being fired, as we've been told.

London :: Guto Harri :: 1340GMT

The prime minister has just delivered a speech which he's wanted to give for a long time. Tony Blair is pleased not just with what's happened-Saddam's capture-but also how. We all imagined that if the Americans got a tip off they would just bomb somewhere off the face of the earth.

But he was captured without a shot being fired. He's looking healthy, he's not been tortured, he's being handed over to Iraqi justice. All of this is very important to Tony Blair, this is now, as he sees it, a chance to bring everybody together.

Berlin :: Ray Furlong :: 1330GMT

In a message to President Bush the German chancellor said the former dictator had caused unspeakable suffering to his own people and the whole region.

Opposition leaders also welcomed Saddam's capture; one described it as one of the best pieces of news all year. Germany strongly opposed the war in Iraq, but it did welcome Saddam Hussein's overthrow, and it said rebuilding the country is the common interest of the whole world community.

Baghdad :: Jo Floto :: 1300GMT

Iraqi journalists and American soldiers at the press conference given by the coalition broke out into spontaneous applause and cheering as pictures were shown of a dishevelled, tired old man wearing a long greying beard: Saddam Hussein.

Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez explained how soldiers from the Fourth Infantry division based in Tikrit had received intelligence on Saturday morning that Saddam Hussein was possibly hiding nearby. 600 soldiers were sent to investigate a farmhouse in the village of Adwar, 15 kilometres from Tikrit.

Then at around 8pm in the evening they uncovered a small hole, 6-8 feet deep. At the bottom was Saddam Hussein, who offered no resistance, despite his famous declaration that he would rather shoot himself than be captured by the Americans.

Basra :: Dumeetha Luthra :: 1255GMT

In Basra the reaction was first one of disbelief and then of utter joy. As the news broke, celebratory fire was reverberating around the area. I was at a petrol station with a British patrol. The British soldiers were grinning widely and raced back to their camp to watch TV.

At the petrol station, soon there was a logjam of cars. Everyone was standing outside listening to their radios and talking amongst themselves. Driving through town crowds have been dancing outside the police station, waving pictures of Shia clerics.

London :: Rageh Omar :: 1250GMT

As Tony Blair accurately put it in his statement barely about an hour ago, the shadow hanging over ordinary Iraqis that he may one day be returned to power, has been removed.

When the video showing Saddam Hussein looking bedraggled was shown at the press conference, three or four Iraqi journalists jumped up and started shouting expletives and "death to Saddam Hussein" in Arabic.


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