- Republican Guard generals betrayed Saddam Hussein in
return for huge payments in cash and gold, it emerged last night. In so
doing, they allowed the Allies to seize Baghdad virtually without a fight.
- Resistance around the capital from six Republican Guard
divisions just melted away because the senior commander of Saddam's elite
troops defected and ordered his men to give up or go home.
- He was spirited away by a United States Apache helicopter
to a secret location. The astonishing revelations of the double-dealing
at the heart of Saddam's inner circle expose the immense contribution made
to the coalition campaign by undercover squads of SAS special forces.
- Working hand-in-hand with MI6 and CIA paramilitaries
they were responsible for buying off factions of Saddam's henchmen.
- The Joint Special Operations Task Forces have been operating
undercover since before the war, contacting Iraqi military, intelligence
and secret police leaders to make them change sides.
- The teams carried suitcases full of gold bullion, US
dollars, Swiss francs and euros to buy off regime leaders, and threatened
to kill those who refused to cooperate.
- The same techniques had been refined in Afghanistan where
Operation Jawbreaker led to the defection of senior warlords.
- General Maher Sufyan, the head of the Republican Guard,
was allegedly spirited away from the Al Rasheed airstrip, in south-east
Baghdad, to an unknown location, according to the French newspaper Le Monde
and the leading Arab news channel Al Jazeera.
- Intelligence sources have told strategic analysts Stratfor
that senior Republican Guard generals and commanders from the Special Republican
Guard and the Iraqi security services betrayed Saddam and revealed his
location on two occasions, leading to the "decapitation" raids
designed to assassinate him and his senior men.
- They then cut a secret deal agreeing to surrender in
the second week of the war and sabotaged the attempts of Deputy Prime Minister
Tariq Aziz and Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan, two of Saddam's key
henchmen, to fight on.
- They only discovered the betrayal when US forces passed
Karbala in the "red zone" around Baghdad.
- In the days before the battle that never was Allied commanders
at Central Command in Qatar boasted that they were in contact with senior
Iraqi civilian and military leaders.
- They have since admitted that a reward system exists
to buy information on the whereabouts of the most wanted war criminals
and the location of weapons of mass destruction.
- US commanders have been unable to show any pictures of
Republican Guard troops and their equipment destroyed in the advance. Yesterday
US Brigadier-General Vince Brooks said he was "not aware" of
the deal with Sufyan, but he admitted: "We know there are a number
of military formations that chose not to fight for the regime.
- "We do deal with leaders that are out there - either
local leaders, tribal leaders or in some cases military leaders."
- He hinted that those who had cooperated with the coalition
may not lose their jobs.
- "There will be former military members who will
have a role to play in a future Iraq, " he said.
- Saddam and his son Qusay, who was the overall commander
of the Republican Guard, may have been killed or so severely wounded in
the first "decapitation" raid on the first night of the war that
they lost control of the troops.
- Saddam's other son Uday is thought to have survived.
Sources say his presence accounted for the stiff resistance from Fedayeen
fighters under his command in the first two weeks of the conflict.
- Allied commanders dismissed reports that Saddam is holed
up in his birthplace north of Tikrit.
- Maher Sufyan is not included in the "deck of cards"
handed to Allied troops to help them hunt down the Iraqi regime leaders.
Popular Information Minister Mohammed Saeed Al Sahaf, nicknamed Comical
Ali, is not on the list either, fuelling specualtion he too may have cut