Where Is Saddam Hussein?

ByABC News
April 9, 2003, 6:04 PM

April 10 -- Even as U.S. Marines tightened the noose that would eventually topple the iron statute of Saddam Hussein from its place in central Baghdad, many are still wondering: Where is the real dictator?

The latest intelligence from U.S. and British sources is that Saddam Hussein may have lived through all the U.S. military could throw at him.

"This is a man who has spent a lifetime trying to avoid and evade assassins and military coups," said Richard Clarke, an ABCNEWS consultant who was a national security adviser at the White House before leaving earlier this year.

"He is always looking for his bolt hole," added Vince Cannistraro, a former senior intelligence officer and now an ABCNEWS consultant. "Whatever action he takes, he's always looking the next step ahead: 'What if something happens here. Where do I go next?' "

Officials now believe that Saddam and many of his ministers may have escaped Baghdad and are headed north, perhaps to his hometown of Tikrit, or some perhaps to Syria.

"We're getting intelligence saying Syria's been cooperative in moving people out of Iraq to Syria," said Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said Wednesday.

Opening But Missed Shots

It was three weeks ago that the U.S. military first targeted Saddam Hussein and started the war. Cruise missiles and bunker buster bombs fell on a compound in Baghdad believed to be the meeting place for Saddam, his sons and other Baath Party members.

"The U.S. intelligence community to this day says it is highly confident that he went into the building, and the building was then bombed," said Clarke.

Within days Saddam was on television and the United States conceded it was not one of his body doubles, but the man himself, touching off recriminations and finger-pointing in Washington.

Said Clarke: "There's really no explanation anyone has to this moment about how he survived."

Strike Two

Then, late Monday (Tuesday in Iraq), there was another U.S. attack based on intelligence Saddam and his ministers were about to gather in a house near a restaurant, in the Mansour district of Baghdad.