Iraqi Governing Council member Mowaffaq al-Rubaie said the U.S. military is holding Saddam in the Baghdad area. U.S. officials have previously said the former dictator was at an undisclosed location in Iraq.
“Saddam Hussein is present in an area of greater Baghdad. … God willing … he will be tried in Iraq in public by an Iraqi court,” al-Rubaie told reporters. “Maybe he will stay there until he stands trial.”
The council recently created a war crimes tribunal and hopes to put Saddam on trial for human rights violations. Council member Adnan Pachachi told reporters, “All stages of the trial will be public.”
But Saddam’s arrest has also sparked angry protests in cities throughout the Sunni Triangle, a region described by U.S. officials as a hotbed for anti-coalition activities. Iraqi demonstrators on Monday and Tuesday protested the detention of Saddam, and in some cases, denied the former Iraqi leader was ever caught.
Demonstrators ransacked the offices of a U.S.-backed mayor in Fallujah, and clashed with American troops in Ramadi. U.S. soldiers regained control of the municipal building in Fallujah early Tuesday, killing at least one person in the process.
In the northern city of Mosul, at least four people were injured at a pro-Saddam demonstration on Wednesday as passengers in a car reportedly fired on the protests, witnesses told the Associated Press. A day earlier, pro-Saddam protesters in Mosul had set fire to the offices of two anti-Saddam political parties. The demonstration ended in violence after an Iraqi policeman shot and killed one person and injured a second.
Meanwhile, U.S. forces, backed by armored vehicles and Apache helicopters, launched a massive pre-dawn raid Wednesday in the northern town of Samarra, searching for guerrilla leaders in an effort to stamp out insurgent activities in the region.
Samarra, a predominantly Sunni town located 62 miles north of Baghdad, has been a site of repeated ambushes against U.S. troops, and anti-U.S. sentiment persists after Saddam’s capture on Saturday.
As part of the military’s ongoing Operation Ivy Blizzard, U.S. forces on Wednesday arrested eight people in Samarra and three suspected insurgents in Baquba, just north of Baghdad, including an officer in the Fedayeen militia who U.S. officials said was organizing attacks in the area.
In an earlier raid Tuesday, U.S. forces captured 73 suspected insurgents, including a suspected guerrilla leader.
Military officials said they didn’t find all the suspects it was seeking in the area, but would continue Operation Ivy Blizzard to round up pro-Saddam insurgents.
“Samarra has been a little bit of a thorn in our side,” U.S. Army Col. Nate Sassaman said. “It hasn’t come along as quickly as other cities in the rebuilding of Iraq. This operation (Ivy Blizzard) is designed to bring them up to speed.”
“There aren’t too many hotspots left in the Sunni Triangle, but Samarra is one of them,” Sassaman added.