Locals react to capture American military seize Sadaam on Saturday

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Shelby County residents awoke with the rest of the nation Sunday morning to the good news.

&uot;We got him,&uot; U.S. officials said.

Sadaam Hussein had been captured by a force of more than 600 U.S. and coalition forces.

&uot;The coalition forces achieved a huge victory today for the Iraqi people and the world. Their hard work and determination led to the capture of Sadaam Hussein,&uot; said U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., &uot;The Iraqi people will no longer have to live in fear of this brutal dictator.&uot;

U.S. residents learned of the capture and positive identification at about 6 a.m. Sunday morning, some 18 hours after the capture had taken place near Tikrit, Hussein’s hometown.

Columbiana Mayor Allan Lowe, who was activated on Jan. 3 of this year and spent seven months in and around Iraq, was pleased that American forces had captured the former Iraqi dictator.

&uot;I’m ecstatic that they caught the man,&uot; he said. &uot;I would hope that it will start to bring a close to the number of bombings and killing of American forces in Iraq.&uot;

Lowe serves as a major in the Alabama Army National Guard’s 200 Materiel Management Center out of Homewood.

His unit was mobilized under Operation Enduring Freedom. He said once they arrived in southern Turkey, the war, also known as Operation Iraqi Freedom, began.

Congressman Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., reacted favorably to the news as well.

&uot;American forces in Iraq deserve thunderous applause for a job well done. Some critics never acknowledged or understood the magnitude of the challenge of finding Saddam and bringing him to justice,&uot; Bachus said. &uot;He had familiar territory, covert support and great wealth, yet he was found and captured within months of the fall of Iraq.&uot;

Hussein was ousted from power earlier in the year and has been on the run from American and coalition forces.

During that time, according to media reports, Hussein has moved from place to place every couple of hours.

He was located by soldiers in what has been referred to as a &uot;rat hole,&uot; about five feet underground and so narrow he would have had trouble bending his knees while in it.

The T-shaped hole was barely large enough for a man to lie down. At one end, where he apparently laid his head, was a pipe for ventilation and a small fan. On the other side was a fluorescent bulb for light. The walls were cement and brick and the floor was dirt.

The hole was covered with a Styrofoam block, a rubber mat and flower pots.

It was reported that when the hole was uncovered, Hussein came out, saying, &uot;I am Saddam Hussein, president of Iraq, and I am willing to negotiate.&uot;

One of the soldiers replied: &uot;President Bush sends his regards.&uot;

The hole was located adjacent to a hut where Hussein had been hiding, a hut that was a far cry from the opulent palaces he had become accustomed to during his long dictatorship of Iraq.

Inside the hut were books, personal care products including Dove moisturizing shampoo and deodorant and a kitchen full of food.

Lowe said although Hussein has now been captured, he still worries about the future for the American troops stationed in Iraq.

&uot;I still think it is going to get worse before it gets better unless the United States changes its rules of engagement on the enemy,&uot; he said.

&uot;It seems we have combat forces who are basically doing nation building misions. From what I observed over there, we’re still a force-based element and not designed for such long-term humanitarian efforts.&uot;

The fate of the ousted Iraqi dictator still hangs in the balance as the location, time and date of his trial has yet to be determined.