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DAWR, Iraq — Alaa Namiq doesn’t want to talk about it. Or he’s dying to. It’s hard to tell. One minute he’s shaking his head, stone silent. Then he starts bragging about it and he won’t stop talking.
“I dug the hole for him,” he says, his eyes burning with pride.
“The hole,” known to the world as the “spider hole,” is the tiny underground bunker on Namiq’s farm where former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was captured by U.S. soldiers on Dec. 13, 2003.
“He came here and he asked us for help and I said yes,” says Namiq, 41, wearing a long, white dishdasha robe. “He said, ‘You might be captured and tortured.’ But in our Arab tribal tradition, and by Islamic law, when someone needs help, we help him.”
Namiq says he and Qais were arrested along with Hussein, and then spent a miserable six months in Abu Ghraib prison. Once a driver and an aide to the former president, he has spent the last few years driving a taxi, finally saving enough to open his family restaurant a few weeks ago.
“Saddam knew there would be a day that he would be captured and executed,” Namiq says. “In his heart, he knew that everything was gone and that he was no longer president. So he started something new — jihad against the occupiers. He sacrificed everything he had, including his two sons, for the sake of the country.”
Namiq says that when he was held at Abu Ghraib, U.S. soldiers — including a female interrogator who told him he looked like actor Tom Selleck — questioned him daily about weapons of mass destruction and the hiding places of top aides to Hussein.