Monday, January 05, 2004

Intel windfall

The capture of Saddam Hussein has led to an information windfall, with many Iraqis coming forward to offer whatever information they have concerning anti-coalition behaviors.

The capture of Saddam Hussein has prompted many more Iraqis to come forward with intelligence about the armed insurgency, but there has been no letup in the deadly attacks on troops and other targets, U.S. officials said Sunday.

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Nevertheless, occupation officials said Sunday that Hussein's capture has prompted many more informers to come forward with details about the insurgency that have led to raids and other operations.

"What we have seen is this: a gradually increasing number of Iraqis providing intelligence, providing actionable intelligence," said Dan Senor, spokesman for L. Paul Bremer III, the top U.S. civilian official in Iraq. "The quality has definitely improved since the period leading up to the capture of Saddam Hussein."

Some Iraqis wishing to talk show up voluntarily at U.S. bases. Other informants have been detained in raids and agree to talk in interrogations, U.S. officials said. Some seek reward money for their information; others want no compensation for their cooperation.

The wealth of "humint" — human intelligence, in military terms — is leading to the capture of high-ranking insurgent operatives, Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said. Raids have also netted troves of documents, computer disks and other evidence that has led higher up the dispersed insurgency command chain.

"Before, we were getting the foot soldiers," Kimmitt said Sunday at the same Baghdad news briefing as Senor. "Now, to some extent, that's helping us get some of the mid-level financiers and organizers."

In the last 24 hours, Kimmitt said Sunday, coalition forces had arrested 83 anti-coalition suspects, now a typical daily tally. Among those detained, Kimmitt said, were a pair of brothers believed to be leaders of insurgent cells in Baghdad; a suspect in the downing of a helicopter in Mosul in November; and a man identified as Hussein's personal photographer.

"The quality of intelligence that is cascading as a result of Saddam's capture is very much a virtuous cycle," Kimmitt said. "We hope that continues over the days and weeks ahead."

Much of the new information on the armed opposition is from mid-level members of Hussein's Baath Party. His capture, officials say, has finally convinced many that he will never regain power — and prompted them to turn in other hard-liners.

Those providing information, Senor said, include "people who just want their jobs back in the ministries, want their cars back, want a stake in Iraq, and were hoping that Saddam Hussein would return, because they believed that's how they would get that Baathist largess showered upon them once again."

"They can no longer be hopeful," he said. "And we find among those individuals … less of a reticence to cooperate."

Also among those coming forward, officials said, were Iraqis who previously avoided cooperating with the coalition because they feared that Hussein and his Baath Party might return and exact revenge on people they regarded as collaborators.


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