Monday, October 06, 2003

Like Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida colleagues, Hussein and his fellow Baath Party leaders protect themselves with money and with powerful codes of honor that demand loyalty to tribe and clan, as well as hospitality and sanctuary to guests. Those protections have appeared to break down less in Tikrit than in Mosul, where the mixed population includes many anti-Hussein groups, such as the Kurdish security forces who arrested Ramadan. The 101st Airborne has set up a telephone hot line in Mosul and gets a steady stream of tips from citizens on the suspected location of ex-Baathists.

U.S. officials have tried to use tribal tradition, too, putting members of the Jabburi tribe into office in the Tikrit region. The tribe for years gave critical support to Hussein, but fell out with him in 1990, when a group of Jabburis tried to assassinate him.

"We ... have good reason to believe he's still in this area," said Col. James Hickey, commander of the 4th Infantry's 1st Brigade.

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