Former Marine Says Saddam Capture Staged

Ex-Marine Says Public Version of Saddam Capture Fiction (WHAM13 Rochester – UPI)

A former U.S. Marine who participated in capturing ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said the public version of his capture was fabricated. Ex-Sgt. Nadim Abou Rabeh, of Lebanese descent, was quoted in the Saudi daily al-Medina Wednesday as saying Saddam was actually captured Friday, Dec. 12, 2003, and not the day after, as announced by the U.S. Army.

“I was among the 20-man unit, including eight of Arab descent, who searched for Saddam for three days in the area of Dour near Tikrit, and we found him in a modest home in a small village and not in a hole as announced,” Abou Rabeh said. “We captured him after fierce resistance during which a Marine of Sudanese origin was killed,” he said. He said Saddam himself fired at them with a gun from the window of a room on the second floor. Then they shouted at him in Arabic: “You have to surrender. … There is no point in resisting.”

“Later on, a military production team fabricated the film of Saddam’s capture in a hole, which was in fact a deserted well,” Abou Rabeh said.

Abou Rabeh was interviewed in Lebanon.

Given Rabeh’s Arab descent, the fact that he’s apparently now living in Lebanon, and that the interview was with a Saudi paper, I’m naturally skeptical of his motivations. Further, I’m always dubious of the ability of large organizations to keep this type of thing secret for any length of time–more so in cases like this, where large sums of money are to be made.

Still, we can’t discount this entirely. The U.S. military has fed propaganda to the press or allowed helpful-but-wrong reports to go unchallenged numerous times in the past. The Jessica Lynch story is but the most obvious example from this war. There was certainly a propaganda advantage to having the Iraqi people believe Saddam was a coward, hiding in a spider hole and then refusing to fight.

Hat tip: What Really Happened

Update (2019): Michelle Malkin agrees, observing, “I’d like to hear from other soldiers in the unit.” She also points to Charles Johnson, who gives the story no credence and reminds us of a July LGF account of another soldier of Arab descent who was part of the capture party, corroborating the official story. Even better, ETJ of The Neoconservative provides links saying no Marines took part in the mission!

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. garrett says:

    See this story at LGF. The man has some very good tools to bring to this question. It was a load of bull, to put it politely. You guys might want to keep these tools in your toybox.

  2. MikeF says:

    While I do believe the military was telling the truth on this, I don’t think it’d be too hard for them to stage it if they really wanted to. A 20 man unit is a modest number of people, but they could easily play on them not being able to keep the “truth” consistent and thus the public not believing. There’d also be the “team players” that’d toe the official line knowing it was a lie, just to advance their careers. As I said, I don’t buy it either, but with the right guys it’d definitely be workable.

  3. James says:

    Something else to keep in mind is this. Hardly any Marine uses the term ex-Marine. No such thing exists. You’re either a Marine or a former Marine. You don’t ever stop being a Marine.

    That alone tells me the guy’s a fraud.

  4. I actually think I caught onto this bogus story before anyone else, but my site doesn’t get any traffic so no one would know. That said, I got a response from UPI after sending them an email with my findings about the fake Marine. They were kind enough to update the story, though I do think it never should have ran in the first place.

    Email from UPI found here .

  5. Gary says:

    Now just a minute here. This guy may indeed be full of beans, but the essential elements of the stroy are correct. They must be. Everybody knows it, right. So it’s fake, but accurate. That’s today’s acceptable standard.

  6. James says:

    Well, if you look at the uniforms of the soliders in the photographs at Saddam’s capture, they are regulation Marine uniforms and not Army…so one has to wonder if the story has some vaildity.

  7. Dawn says:

    To what pictures does James refer? The official pictures I have seen show army uniforms.

  8. uril says:

    The uniforms are not at all Marine. The marine desert camo fatigues have the digitized blocky camo patterns. The troops in the pictures are wearing jackets and pants with the three-color desert camouflage utility uniform patterns. That’s used only by Army, Air Force, and Navy.

    The boots rather look wrong too — too cream colored. I thought, but I’m bad on this, Marine desert boots were more brownish.

  9. Nick Danger says:

    You jumped the gun on this one, Marine. The only reference to “ex-marine” is in the headline. The alleged marine who was interviewed did NOT use the term, so you shouldn’t be skeptical on that basis.