On This Day: How George W Bush announced capture of Saddam Hussein

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Saddam Hussein is filmed after his capture in this file footage released December 14, 2003. Iraqi Interim President Ghazi al-Yawar, said June 15, 2004 that toppled Iraqi president Saddam Hussein would be handed over to the new government once procedures were in place to protect his life and give him a fair trial.
Saddam Hussein is filmed after his capture in footage released on 14 December 2003. (Reuters)

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The mission to capture Saddam Hussein was named after a Patrick Swayze movie.

Operation Red Dawn took its title from the 1984 film which imagines a Russian invasion on American soil.

The former Iraqi leader, who had been president for 24 years, was found by American troops on 13 December 2003 in the town of ad-Dawr, near the city of Tikrit.

The following day, US president George W Bush announced his capture to the world.

US President George W. Bush speaks about the capture of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, DC, 14 December 2003. According to officials, US forces captured Hussein, 13 December 2003, capping a massive eight-month manhunt by seizing him as he huddled in a camouflaged farmyard hole near his hometown of Tikrit.    AFP PHOTO/ NICHOLAS ROBERTS        (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS ROBERTS/AFP via Getty Images)
US president George W Bush announces the capture of Saddam Hussein on 14 December 2003. (AFP via Getty Images)
Saddam Hussein had a medical examination after his capture. (Getty)
Saddam Hussein had a medical examination after his capture. (Getty)
A soldier with the fourth Infantry division takes a picture December 21, 2003 of the
The 'spider hole' where Saddam Hussein was found hiding when he was captured by US troops near Tikrit, Iraq. (Getty)
Journalists stand beside the spider hole in which Saddam Hussein was hiding when he was captured by U.S. troops on Saturday, during a media visit to the farm near Tikrit, December 15, 2003. Top members of Iraq's Governing Council said on Monday Saddam Hussein should be tried by Iraqis but that there should be some form of international involvement in the process. [Abdelaziz al-Hakim, president of the U.S.-appointed Council, cited the special tribunal set up by the Council last week as the proper court for a trial which many believe would lead to a death penalty.]
Journalists stand beside the spider hole in which Saddam Hussein was hiding when he was captured. (Getty)

“He was found near a farmhouse outside the city of Tikrit, in a swift raid conducted without casualties,” said Bush.

“And now the former dictator of Iraq will face the justice he denied to millions.

“The capture of this man was crucial to the rise of a free Iraq. It marks the end of the road for him, and for all who bullied and killed in his name.

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“And this afternoon, I have a message for the Iraqi people: You will not have to fear the rule of Saddam Hussein ever again.

Operation Red Dawn was carried out by joint operations Task Force 121, an elite covert US military team.

After searching two sites outside the Iraqi town of ad-Dawr, codenamed “Wolverine 1” and “Wolverine 2” (The Wolverines were the high school students who fought the Russians in the movie Red Dawn), there was no sign of Hussein.

However, they found him hiding in a “spider hole” between the two sites at 8.30pm local time.

U. S. President George W. Bush prepares to make a statement about the capture of former Iraqi Dictator Saddam Hussein in the Cabinet Room of the White House, December 14, 2003. Bush said on Sunday that Saddam Hussein would face justice and that his capture brought a hopeful day to Iraq but that it would not spell the end of violence in Iraq. REUTERS/Larry Downing  LSD/GN
US president George W Bush prepares to announce the capture of Saddam Hussein. (Reuters)

The former Iraqi leader did not resist capture, even though armed with a Glock semi-automatic pistol. An AK-47 rifle and $750,000 in US bank notes were discovered in the spider hole. Two other individuals were also detained.

The ex-Iraqi leader is reported to have said: “I am Saddam Hussein. I am the president of Iraq and I am willing to negotiate.”

An American soldier is said to have responded: “President Bush sends his regards.”

In his speech the next day, Bush said: “In the history of Iraq, a dark and painful era is over. A hopeful day has arrived. All Iraqis can now come together and reject violence and build a new Iraq.

Read more: Where is Saddam Hussein buried?

“I also have a message for all Americans: The capture of Saddam Hussein does not mean the end of violence in Iraq. We still face terrorists who would rather go on killing the innocent than accept the rise of liberty in the heart of the Middle East. Such men are a direct threat to the American people, and they will be defeated.”

A fan at the NFL football game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New England Patriots in Foxboro, Massachusetts December 14, 2003 holds a sign celebrating the capture former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein near his hometown of Tikrit. REUTERS/Brian Snyder  BS
A fan at the NFL football game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New England Patriots in Foxboro, Massachusetts, holds up a banner on 14 December 2003. (Reuters)
AN IRAQI BOY COVERS HIS EARS WHILE HIS FATHER FIRES IN THE AIR FOLLOWING ARRESTING OF SADDAM HUSSEIN IN BASRA.  An Iraqi boy covers his ears while his father fire machinegun in the air following arresting of ousted Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein in the southern city of Basra, some 600 km of Baghdad, December 14, 2003. Two car bombs exploded at police stations in and near Baghdad on Monday, killing at least nine people and shattering any hopes of a quick end to violence after the capture of Saddam Hussein. (Picture taken December 14.) REUTERS/Atef Hassan
An Iraqi boy in Basra, Iraq, covers his ears while his father shoots into the sky to celebrate the capture of Saddam Hussein. (Reuters)

Hussein was given prisoner of war status and granted rights under the Geneva Conventions.

The status also meant he would be eligible to stand trial for war crimes.

After his capture, television pictures showed Hussein having a medical examination, a move criticised by some, but the US said they wanted to show the Iraqi people they had no longer anything to fear from their former leader.

Hussein was held by US forces at Camp Cropper base near Baghdad airport until 30 June 2004, when he was handed over to the interim Iraqi government to stand trial for crimes against humanity.

He was charged by the Iraqi Special Tribunal over his involvement in the 1982 Dujail massacre, in which 148 Shia Muslim civilians were killed.

He was found guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced to death by hanging.

Hussein was executed on 30 December 2006 at Camp Justice, an Iraqi army based in northern Baghdad.

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