Skip to comments.Ex-Iraq Minister Blames Desertion for Fall (Baghdad Bob)
Posted on 10/16/2003 12:29:30 AM PDT by kattracks
The Associated Press
CAIRO, Egypt Oct. 15 Iraq's former information minister on Wednesday said the main reason the Iraqi army collapsed so quickly during the U.S. invasion was widespread confusion after American troops captured the Baghdad airport. Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, speaking to Abu Dhabi Television, acknowledged that some Iraqi officers told the soldiers who were trying to regain the airport not to fight and to leave their units.
"Our troops were confused, there was a wide desertion by the soldiers and several units were destroyed," al-Sahhaf said, describing the battle around Baghdad airport when U.S. troops reached it on April 4.
Al-Sahhaf became infamous during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq for hurling anti-American insults and outlandish claims of Iraqi military victories over the coalition. He claims he surrendered to U.S. forces, was questioned and released.
His comments were broadcast on the fifth and final episode of "Al-Sahhaf's War." He disappeared April 9, the day Baghdad fell, and reportedly hid in a relative's home. He was not included in the list of 55 most wanted Iraqi officials and left Baghdad for the United Arab Emirates on July 10.
Asked if treason was behind the collapse of the Iraqi forces, al-Sahhaf said, "You can call it treason but I call it a state of confusion of the army."
Al-Sahhaf said a senior Iraqi official, whom he refused to name because he is now under arrest, told him that some officers and soldiers contacted the units, telling them, "Everything has collapsed, go home, there is no hope of fighting."
Al-Sahhaf said seeing Saddam Hussein's statue being pulled down in a Baghdad square on April 9 did not discourage him.
"To the contrary, with all these pictures I believed and prepared myself to continue the resistance," he said. "What does the fall of a statue mean? There are lot of statues. What is the effect of the fall of the statue? We should do our duty and continue (resisting) to the last moment."
Asked about joyful Iraqis hitting fallen Saddam statues with their slippers, al-Sahhaf said such a scene would happen anywhere.
"Some were happy," he admitted. "Many French people were happy for (Nazi) Germany occupying France, and at the same time many French people stood against the occupation."
However, al-Sahhaf did not explain why he reportedly took off his military uniform and went to hide. He said he surrendered to the Americans on the advice of friends.
On Wednesday's program, footage was aired of al-Sahhaf on April 7 denying that American tanks had entered Baghdad. "This is not true. I am responsible for what I am saying now. They (the Americans) started to commit suicide at the walls of Baghdad."
Al-Sahhaf said Wednesday that he made that statement to "raise morale."
During the five episodes, the defiant al-Sahhaf always stood up for Saddam and the former Iraqi regime.
Al-Sahhaf said he had no message for Saddam or any of his former friends in the Iraqi leadership.
"I am in seclusion, in a state of absolute seclusion," he said. "It was an invasion and the regime fell. It is a great historical turning point that should be deeply and accurately studied and plainly explained."
Al-Sahhaf became infamous during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq for hurling anti-American insults and outlandish claims of Iraqi military victories over the coalition. He claims he surrendered to U.S. forces, was questioned and released.I had this odd hunch even during the war that he was one of our spies and his bombastic statements were a way of getting coded messages out.
I thought there were no American soldiers at the Baghdad airport.
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