War and Conflict

The War on Terror

When was Saddam Hussein captured?

The former Iraqi leader, known for his cruelty, was caught on December 14, 2003, eight months after the fall of Baghdad. Hussein (1937-) was found in Ad Dawr, about nine miles from his hometown of Tikrit. He was said to be hiding “like a rat,” in a hole across the Tigris River from one of his palaces. His 6-to-8-foot bunker was equipped with a basic ventilation system and was camouflaged with bricks and dirt. A disheveled Hussein had in his possession about $750,000 as well as arms, which he did not use. The former dictator was taken into custody in what U.S. defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld called a “surprisingly peaceful manner.” Despite that, Hussein reportedly remained defiant and unrepentant: When he was asked about the thousands of people killed and dumped into mass graves during his regime, he dismissed his victims as “thieves.”

The news of his capture prompted jubilation in Baghdad and across the nation: Crowds of Iraqis flooded into the streets to celebrate the end of his brutal rule. But his hometown of Tikrit, considered a loyalist stronghold, remained quiet. The news of his capture was welcomed by leaders around the globe. In a short televised address from the White House, President Bush remarked that Hussein would “face the justice he denied to millions.” Bush also reassured the Iraqi people that they would “not have to fear the rule of Saddam Hussein ever again.” Hussein was held for questioning in Iraq. Upon the June 28, 2004, transfer of authority, Iraq was given legal custody of the former ruler, who became a criminal defendant instead of a prisoner of war.


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