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Two Novice Gumshoes Charted The Capture Of Saddam Hussein
Wall Street Journal via Early Bird ^ | December 18,2003 | Farnaz Fassihi, Staff Reporter Of The Wall Street Journal

Posted on 12/18/2003 5:50:19 AM PST by Ispy4u

Their Mission: Make a List Of People With Links; On It Was 'The Source'

TIKRIT, Iraq -- The capture of Saddam Hussein began with four names Maj. Stan Murphy scribbled on three pieces of paper and ripped from a small green notebook.

The 41-year-old intelligence officer with the First Brigade of the Fourth Infantry Division knew these names were just a small part of a much larger web of names and families likely to be hiding Mr. Hussein.

He handed the names to two junior U.S. military-intelligence analysts in Tikrit: Lt. Angela Santana, 31, and Cpl. Harold Engstrom, 36, both with Alpha Company, 104th Military Intelligence Battalion. The unit's job in Tikrit was to support the Fourth Infantry Division with intelligence data, helping the troops break up the resistance cells threatening the postwar stability of Iraq -- and ultimately to arrest Mr. Hussein.

The two officers say Maj. Murphy's orders to them were: "Figure it out, draw the lines, make me a chart and find every crucial person connected to Saddam."

Their first thought: "Is he joking? This is impossible. We can't even pronounce these names," says Lt. Santana.

But soon Lt. Santana, a former executive secretary in Ohio and Cpl. Engstrom, a former high-school English teacher in Phoenix, started poring over about 9,000 other names.

By mid-September, after many sleepless nights spent sifting through tens of thousands of pages of information, Lt. Santana and Cpl. Engstrom had narrowed their list to 300 names.

The two say the task of creating Mr. Hussein's Who's Who chart was beyond the scope of their training. "Completely surreal," is how Lt. Santana describes the job. "Like we are detectives suddenly."

Indeed, this was the pair's first field experience in military intelligence. Their formal training included making charts and putting together intelligence data. But making sense of complicated Arab tribal culture and Mr. Hussein's strange ties wasn't part of it.

The duo read through sheaves of interrogation reports from detainees and interviews with local Iraqis. They plumbed a huge database provided by central military intelligence. Eventually, they created what they nicknamed "Mongo Link," a four page, 46-by-42-inch color-coded chart with their 300 names on it. It was basically a family tree, with Mr. Hussein's picture at the center, and lines connecting his tribal and blood ties to the six main tribes of the Sunni triangle: the Husseins, al-Douris, Hadouthis, Masliyats, Hassans and Harimyths. The military believed members of these clans shielded Saddam for eight months, financed the resistance, and planned assassinations and attacks against Iraqis and coalition forces.

Next to each of the names, Lt. Santana and Cpl. Engstrom scribbled down bits of information they were able to gather about individuals: their ages, home village, spouses and children, where the names came from, whether people on the list were in custody and how they got there.

Lt. Santana and Cpl. Engstrom's chart, the contents of which are classified, eventually came to be known in military circles for its accuracy and has even made its way to the commander of the coalition forces, Gen. Ricardo Sanchez in Baghdad.

As the chart grew, the pair started to see patterns. They realized the resistance was multilayered, as they pieced together who was related to whom among the tribes. The tribal leadership was tightly linked through a web of marriages and intensely loyal to Mr. Hussein, the analysts concluded. Below that level were a number of other people clearly part of the insurgency. These fighters were likely in it for the money.

The two sleuths noticed how few of the resistance fighters who had been caught planting bombs or carrying out raids were relatives of the tribal principals. They concluded that the bosses were distancing themselves from the rank and file.

"We learned about the Iraqi army, structure, history and tribal culture before we got here, but it wasn't until we started working on the chart that it really hit us. The extent and depth of how much the tribes were intertwined and integrated was beyond our expectation and frankly shocked us," says Cpl. Engstrom.

He says he quit his teaching job after the Sept. 11 attacks to join the Army. He was sent to Iraq soon after graduating from boot camp. He was chosen for intelligence training and in that capacity learned data collection, making charts and trying to understand the enemy. "We were trained a bit about guerrilla warfare but obviously not enough for this task," Cpl. Engstrom says.

Lt. Santana and Cpl. Engstrom built the chart around target No. 1: Saddam Hussein. A picture of him is printed at the center. Above it is his chief of staff, and below is his personal secretary. To his left and right are men labeled as chief of operations and chief of security.

Next to every name on the chart is a physical description -- hair and eye color, height, facial features that stand out -- as well as details about where they were last seen or any other information that might lead to their arrest. Several dozen of the names are already in custody of the coalition forces and color-coded with red ink. The main people around Hussein are then linked to dozens of others, many of whom the military believes to be ringleaders for resistance cells plotting attacks against Americans in Tikrit, Samarra, Fallujah, Ramadi and Baghdad.

"His inner circle was tied to families, it was tied to tribes and to money," says Maj. Murphy. "I felt like if I looked at those three things, sooner or later we were going to figure a nugget that would bring us closer to Saddam."

That nugget came with the man the military calls "the source," who led an army of 600 troops to a farmhouse in the village of ad Dawr where Mr. Hussein was hiding. His name, which the military hasn't disclosed, first appeared on Lt. Santana and Cpl. Engstrom's list in early summer, when several detainees named him as an influential leader financing the resistance.

Lt. Santana and Cpl. Engstrom spent many hours mapping his ties to Mr. Hussein and others on their list. When they were finished, they knew he wasn't an ordinary suspect. If captured he could offer substantial clues to Mr. Hussein's whereabouts. They alerted the Fourth Infantry Division to hunt him down. The informant, who is described as middle-age and from an area near Tikrit, escaped capture several times. Finally, he was arrested in a house raid in Baghdad last Friday and immediately brought to Tikrit for interrogation. Mr. Hussein was captured the next day.

"When I heard this source was captured, I knew we were onto something. We had someone who was very close to Saddam talking so there was a great chance we would find him that night," says Lt. Santana, who has been in service for 11 years and served in the Gulf War in 1991. She says she joined the army "because I was hyper and wanted a good outlet for my energy."

On Saturday night, Lt. Santana and Cpl. Engstrom sat inside an operations room at the military's headquarters in Tikrit and waited anxiously for news of the search. They listened to one of the commanders speaking to Col. James Hickey, who led the Fourth Infantry Division's First Brigade, on the radio. Shortly after 8 p.m., Lt. Santana heard Col. Hickey's voice announcing, "We got him."

She was ecstatic. "We got him?" she recalls screaming, throwing up her arms and jumping to her feet. "We got him, we got him!" she continued shouting as she ran from room to room in Saddam Hussein's former palace.

The two have many more names on their chart still at large. They know more will trickle in over the next few months. They have printed a life-size photo of Mr. Hussein's face taken minutes after his capture and now use it as a cover for their chart.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: 104thmi; army; intelligence; prequel; reddawn; saddam; viceisclosed; viceisclosing
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To: Ispy4u
Does it strike anyone as odd that this analysis was not begun twenty years ago .... reached the stage described here within one year of the start of hostilities in 1991 and this entire family structure thoroughly compromised by the start of hostilities this year?

Our intel sucks AND blows at the same time.

who the ____ is running this world anyway?
81 posted on 12/18/2003 10:47:39 AM PST by mercy
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To: Ispy4u
I certainly hope promotions are in the works for these two.
82 posted on 12/18/2003 10:56:16 AM PST by Route66 (America's Mainstreet)
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To: Ispy4u
A "This is what you'll never hear about on 60 Minutes"BUMP!!!
83 posted on 12/18/2003 11:09:29 AM PST by Pagey (Hillary Rotten is a Smug and Holier- than- Thou Socialist)
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To: Ispy4u
This is a great story. Great post.
84 posted on 12/18/2003 11:33:48 AM PST by 68skylark
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To: Pagey
Yeah, you're right. It's a real shame the big-city press is so anti-military. (Their anti-military stance is just a stand in for their anti-Americanism.) There are so many compelling stories from Iraq and elsewhere. Thank heaven we have the FR to help get the word out!
85 posted on 12/18/2003 11:46:21 AM PST by 68skylark
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To: MindBender26
No, the wind howls over Ft. Sill because Texas sucks and Kansas blows! :-)

I guess you make do when you want to serve badly enough.
86 posted on 12/18/2003 12:05:16 PM PST by Redleg Duke (Stir the pot...don't let anything settle to the bottom where the lawyers can feed off of it!)
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To: MindBender26
A 31 year old, 11 year service lieutenant? A 36 year old E-4?

I'm sure the LT was prior enlisted, and the E-4 should by rights soon be an LT. Except I think maybe he's too old for OCS, not sure about that though.

87 posted on 12/19/2003 4:49:21 PM PST by El Gato (Federal Judges can twist the Constitution into anything.. Or so they think.)
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To: Moonman62
I have to wonder why we are paying billions upon billions for professional intelligence bureaucracies. Where were they?

Well the few indians were trying to their jobs, but the chiefs were playing bureaucractic power games. Same old, same old.

88 posted on 12/19/2003 4:51:33 PM PST by El Gato (Federal Judges can twist the Constitution into anything.. Or so they think.)
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To: Blood of Tyrants
The corporal joined after 9/11, so he has been in only two years. But why he didn't try for OCS (too old?) when he had a degree

Yep, from Army Officer Candidate Page OCS requirements tab.

At least 19 and not older than 29 at time of USAREC Selelction Board. (age waivers will be considered on a case by case basis for applicnats ages 29-34)

If he's 36 now, he was 33 or 34 upon enlistment, depending on how long after 9-11 he enlisted. An age waiver might have been possible then, but now he's too old for even that.

89 posted on 12/19/2003 5:08:37 PM PST by El Gato (Federal Judges can twist the Constitution into anything.. Or so they think.)
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To: aculeus
Great article but "cpls" are not officers.

True, not even non-commisioned officers. However I wouldn't be too very suprised if the corporal was soon a Sgt, and they are NCOs. The LT will soon be a Captain too, just in the normal course of things if nothing else. (It's only 2-3 years from 1LT to Captain, IIRC, it was 2 years in my day, 18 months not long before that...but it took me more like 8 years. Long boring story)

90 posted on 12/19/2003 5:16:43 PM PST by El Gato (Federal Judges can twist the Constitution into anything.. Or so they think.)
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You are exactly right. I attended demos of programs designed to do just this. One national agency I worked at for several years had an automated program that used programmable "filters" to construct possible nexuses (nexi ?) from various forms of communications. The results were displayed in "clusters" with weighted connections between the nodes. Supposedly, all one had to do was to feed this beast enough data and bingo - there's the person or people to target.

Your comment about disseminating tools like this down to the folks who could really use them is a critical issue within our intelligence services. Compartmentalization due to security requirements, while necessary for counterintelligence reasons, is really bad for spreading the wealth, so to speak.
91 posted on 12/19/2003 5:21:34 PM PST by GunnyB (Once a Marine, Always a Marine)
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To: gdc61
Jarheads? Marines are some of the best counterinsurgency troops in the world. Not having the gear and firepower of the Army always has meant that we needed to be smarter & faster.
92 posted on 12/19/2003 5:24:06 PM PST by GunnyB (Once a Marine, Always a Marine)
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Wow - what a blast from the past... I too, was an 03 grunt (0341) and had a vision as well - in Lebanon in '76. I figured that I'd better get some better training than lobbing mortar rounds or I'd end up as a rent-a-cop or worse. I went counterintelligence (0211) and had a much better time!

I wanted to get back in (I did work ups for chasing Abu Nidal back when our "computer" was a grease pencil & a map), but the recruiter just laughed and gave me some bumper stickers....
93 posted on 12/19/2003 5:30:23 PM PST by GunnyB (Once a Marine, Always a Marine)
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To: cookcounty
Is an E-4 an NCO, now? When I was in (the '71-'73 dark ages), I was an E4, but they didn't consider us NCOs.

Two kinds of E-4 in the Army, Corporals and Specialists. In those "dark ages", and until fairly recently, the AF also had dual E-4 ranks, Senior Airman and Sergeant. Now they only have Sr. Amn, and the E-5 is a staff sergeant. In fact that far back they may have only had the sergeant rank. Even though I go back that far, maybe because I go back that far, I can't remember. See: Enlisted Ranks and Officer Ranks

94 posted on 12/19/2003 5:34:54 PM PST by El Gato (Federal Judges can twist the Constitution into anything.. Or so they think.)
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To: Ispy4u
I wonder if Kevin Bacon's name was on that list?
95 posted on 12/19/2003 5:38:38 PM PST by rabidralph (Liberals are the appendix in the world's body.)
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To: El Gato
Corporals are non-comissioned officers.

The vast majority of E-4s in the Army are specialists, but there are a lot of CPLs and they are NCOs.
96 posted on 12/19/2003 6:32:16 PM PST by Ispy4u
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To: rabidralph
What has he done lately?
97 posted on 12/19/2003 6:35:40 PM PST by Ispy4u
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To: Ispy4u
Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. I was wondering if they managed to connect Saddam to Kevin Bacon during their analysis.
98 posted on 12/19/2003 7:00:59 PM PST by rabidralph (Liberals are the appendix in the world's body.)
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To: GunnyB
counterinsurgency troops? we are talking M.I. , inscom, ect.
in a firefight i'd want a jarhead in the foxhole with me first. but charts and graphs ? i'll take my coke bottle glassed analyst buddies back in INSCOM. FSA 1st ops bn. woohoo!
99 posted on 12/19/2003 7:30:33 PM PST by gdc61
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To: El Gato
Can always do the direct commission, on in the case of intel, direct warrant
100 posted on 12/19/2003 7:40:46 PM PST by MindBender26 (For more news as it happens, stay tuned to your local FReeper Network station)
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