A former US soldier who participated in the capture of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein shared new details about the operation during a recent interview.
Retired Army Master General Sergeant Kevin Holland appeared on an episode of the Danger Close podcast hosted by former Navy SEAL Jack Carr where he shared insights into how the US military apprehended Hussein.
According to Mr Holland, the group that captured Hussein told the leader that “President Bush sends his regards” when they removed him from a hole in the ground where he had been hiding in 2003.
Mr Holland said the team that ultimately captured Hussein was tipped off to the location of his hole thanks to “human intel” — someone sharing the location with them directly.
He claimed that on the day of the operation, members of his unit removed the hole’s cover and found the interior lined with bricks. They threw a grenade into the hole and reportedly heard a voice speaking Arabic from inside.
“Then hands come out of the hole and a big bushy head of hair and then we grab him and jerk him out — and it [was] like, ‘well, that’s him,’” Mr Holland said on the podcast.
One of his teammates who helped remove Hussein from the hole reportedly said “holy cow, it’s him” once he got a look at the Iraqi leader.
Mr Holland claims Hussein was holding a Glock 18 pistol, and that a team mate he described as a “big Texan” “nails him in the mouth” in order to disarm him. He claimed that former President George W Bush now has the gun.
Once he was disarmed, Mr Holland said Hussein tried to negotiate with the Americans.
“He just said he was the president of Iraq and he’s ready to negotiate,” Mr Holland said. “He said that in English.”
He said they told Hussein that “that time’s passed, brother.”
The Army veteran said he felt that Hussein “was just an evil guy,” claiming he “had this presence about him that was very unnerving.”
After he was taken into custody American forces turned Hussein over to the interim Iraqi government. The former leader — who was responsible for an estimated 250,000 murders — was tried and convicted by an Iraqi court for crimes against humanity.
Hussein was ultimately sentenced to death by hanging and was executed on 30 December, 2006.