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Saddam 'caught like a rat' in a hole

The U.S. military released this picture of the hut where Saddam was found. He was hiding in a hole underground.
The U.S. military released this picture of the hut where Saddam was found. He was hiding in a hole underground.

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Watch CNN's ongoing live coverage of news of the capture of Saddam Hussein, now on-air.
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Inside Saddam's 'spider hole' hideout at a farmhouse.
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Actionable intelligence led to Saddam's capture.
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President Bush speaks about the capture.
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Major Gen. Raymond Odierno describes the capture.
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Audio Slide Show: Capture of Saddam 

• Behind the Scenes: Something big was happening 
• On The Scene: Iraqis must be top priority 
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Saddam Hussein
4th Infantry Division
Unrest, Conflicts and War

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Across the Tigris River from his opulent palaces, Saddam Hussein shuttered himself at the bottom of a narrow, dark hole beneath a two-room mud shack on a sheep farm, a U.S. military official said Sunday.

Having opted not to travel with security forces or an entourage that might bring attention to him, only a Styrofoam square, dirt and a rug separated the deposed Iraqi leader from the U.S. soldiers who routed him from his hiding place Saturday night.

"He was in the bottom of a hole with no way to fight back," said Maj. Gen. Raymond Odierno. "He was caught like a rat."

Saddam's capture was based not on a direct tip, but a collection of intelligence gathered from the hostile questioning of Saddam's former bodyguards and family members, U.S. officials said.

That intelligence prompted U.S. soldiers to go to Adwar, about 15 kilometers (nine miles) from Tikrit, Saddam's ancestral home.

'We realized early on in the summer... the people we had to get to were the midlevel individuals, his bodyguards... We tried to work through family and tribal ties that might have been close to Saddam Hussein," Odierno said.

"Over the last 10 days or so, we brought in about five to ten members of these families, ... and finally we got the ultimate information from one of these individuals."

After they received the "actionable intelligence" earlier Saturday, the 1st Brigade Combat team of the 4th Infantry Division, the Raider Brigade, was given the assignment to kill or capture Saddam in a mission dubbed Operation Red Dawn.

Hideaway uncovered

Six hundred soldiers from the Raider Brigade prepared to move on two locations. They included cavalry engineers, artillery, aviation and special operations forces.

Even with reliable information, U.S. forces initially failed to grab Saddam in raids on two targets near Adwar.

But a subsequent cordon and search operation in the same area unearthed the ragged, bearded fugitive.

Troops converged on a two-room mud hut squatting between two farmhouses with sheep penned nearby.

One room, which appeared to serve as a bedroom, was in disarray with clothes strewn about the area.

The other room was a crude kitchen, Odierno said.

Inside that shack, a Styrofoam plug closed Saddam's subterranean hideaway. Dirt and a rug covered the entryway to the hole, he said.

U.S. forces encountered no resistance during Red Dawn.

"I think the pressure had become so tight on him, (Saddam) knew he couldn't travel in large entourages so he didn't have any men with him, didn't have much of a security force," Odierno said.

Saddam was armed with a pistol, but showed no resistance during his capture.

"He was a tired man and also a man resigned to his fate," Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of U.S. forces, told a news conference in Baghdad Sunday.

Soldiers also recovered two AK 47 rifles, $750,000 in $100 denominations and a white and orange taxi in the raid.

Troops took two other unidentified Iraqis affiliated with Saddam into custody.

By 9:15 p.m., Saddam was moved to an undisclosed location and soldiers continued to search the area.

"If you could see where we found him, he could have been hiding in a hundred different places, a thousand different places, like this all around Iraq," Odierno said.

"And it just takes finding the right person who will give you a good idea where he might be, and that's what happened."

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