U.S. troops think Saddam is alive and hiding in the network of tunnels that stretch 50 miles around Baghdad. But Haitham Rashid Wihaib, his former chief of protocol, says Saddam left Baghdad for his hometown of Tikrit around April 2nd, leaving Iraqi military forces without any central command. “I spent nearly 20 years working for Saddam, latterly seeing him daily while running his private office and daily appointment diary,” says Wihaib. “I also got to know his doubles. And the Saddam Hussain we saw shaking hands of his subjects in that extraordinary walkabout on Friday, was definitely a doppelganger.”

He says walking the streets was the idea of Saddam’s son Qusay, and was done to convince the coalition, as well as Iraqi citizens, that his father was still in Baghdad. Last year, Saddam’s aides rented 500 houses in Tikrit, where he used to move from one house to another, only spending a few hours in each place.

Wihaib says Saddam left Baghdad in a series of anonymous taxis and battered pickup trucks in a convoy which looked like an ordinary group of fleeing Iraqis. He says, “Saddam has taken his two murderous sons and a handful of key advisors still loyal to him. In Baghdad each local commander has been told to act as he sees fit?Probably by next weekend he will either be dead or captured or will have fled his ravaged country.” Saddam has already moved his money into Swiss and Asian banks.

Wihaib says Saddam’s first wife, Sajida, and their three daughters and grandchildren, are already staying with the Iraqi ambassador in Syria. His latest wife, Iman, has been sent to Jordan. Saddam has told his bodyguards to shoot him if he’s about to be captured.

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