BBC OnePanorama


Last Updated: Friday, 26 March 2004, 22:44 GMT
Saddam betrayed by bodyguard
Mohammed al Musslit
Mohammed al Musslit led the Americans to Saddam
Saddam Hussein was finally betrayed by a relative who was one of his closest bodyguards, a BBC programme reveals.

Panorama reports that after eight months on the run, the hiding place of the ousted Iraqi leader was given away by an aide known as "the fat man".

The programme, to be broadcast on BBC One on Sunday, says Mohammed Ibrahim Omar al-Musslit gave away the secret after being arrested and interrogated.

Saddam Hussein was captured on 13 December near his home town of Tikrit.

Mr Musslit was a loyal lieutenant of Saddam Hussein. He was one of the people who accompanied the Iraqi leader as he fled Baghdad in a white Oldsmobile, as US troops entered the city on 9 April 2003.

But Panorama will reveal that he was quickly broken by interrogators after being captured in Baghdad, and led American troops to his boss just hours after being arrested in December.

No reward?

After his arrest, Mr Musslit was flown to Tikrit where he was interrogated. He was then made to point out the remote farm where Saddam Hussein was hiding

I think the US treasury gets to keep the money
Major-General Raymond Odierno

The 600 American soldiers there found nothing in the farm buildings, but discovered Saddam Hussein hiding in an underground passage.

But because he did not willingly offer the information, the man who led the Americans to Saddam Hussein's secret bunker near his home town of Tikrit will not benefit from the $25m reward that was on offer.

A senior US commander, Major General Ray Odierno, denied the source had been tortured but told the programme that he was "a shady character", adding that he believed "the US treasury gets to keep the money."

To this day the US will not reveal the identity of the man who led them to Saddam Hussein.

Key figure

Colonel James Hickey, of the 4th Infantry Division, the unit that captured him in "Operation Red Dawn" would only say that he was "a middle aged man who went pear shaped."

Jane Corbin talks to Col James Hickey
Jane Corbin talks to Col James Hickey
However, people close to Saddam Hussein confirmed to Panorama reporter Jane Corbin that it was Mr Musslit who betrayed the former Iraqi president.

Mr Musslit was a key figure in Saddam Hussein's security organisation and had been in the Fedayeen.

By the end, Mr Musslit was believed to be the only man who knew of Saddam Hussein's full movements.

Panorama: Saddam on the run was broadcast on BBC One on Sunday, 28 March 2004 at 2215 BST

The BBC's Jane Corbin
"For decades Saddam had relied on a tight-knit circle of henchmen for survival"

Saddam on the run
09 Mar 04 |  Panorama
On the Tikrit nightshift
26 Mar 04 |  Panorama
Your comments
26 Mar 04 |  Panorama

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

banner watch listen bbc sport Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific