Operation Red Dawn was a December 13, 2003, military operation by United States forces in the small Iraqi town of ad-Dawr, near Tikrit, that resulted in the capture of the country's former president Saddam Hussein, and put to rest rumours of his death.
The operation was assigned to the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division, the Raider Brigade. 600 soldiers participated, including cavalry, engineers, artillery, air support, and special forces, under the overall command of Colonel James Hickey of the 4th Infantry Division.
The raids targeted two sites (codenamed Wolverine 1 and Wolverine 2) outside the village of ad-Dawr but failed initially to find Saddam. A subsequent cordon and search operation found the fugitive dictator hiding in a so-called "spider hole" at a small mud-walled compound. He was taken into custody at 20:30 local time. He was armed with a pistol, but showed no resistance during his capture. The soldiers also found two AK-47 rifles, US$750750,000 in $100 bills, Mars bars, a stash of SPAM (a food prohibited under Muslim Halal) and a white and orange taxicab. Two Iraqis, believed to be Saddam's former cook Qais Namuk and his brother, were also taken into custody in the raid. Saddam was later moved to an undisclosed location as soldiers continued to search the area.
The name of the operation, Red Dawn, apparently comes from the title of a 1984 film directed by John Milius, in which a group of American teenagers band together to commit sabotage and terrorism in their Colorado town against invading Soviet forces. The teenagers, whose leader was portrayed by a young Patrick Swayze, called themselves the "Wolverines" — the name also given to the targets of the US forces in ad-Dawr.
Conspiracy theories have surfaced, variously claiming that Hussein was not in hiding, but rather held captive by Iraqis seeking the $25 million reward for his capture, or that United States authorites somehow timed Hussein's capture to draw attention from other topics concerning George W. Bush's presidential administration. Washington State's Democratic Representative Jim McDermott has suggested publicly that the Bush administration timed Hussein's capture to their own benefit. In a Fox News article, McDermott stated "It's funny, when they're having all this trouble, suddenly they have to roll out something." McDermott has offered no evidence that would support this assertion.
Another fresh controversy has arisen due to reports that American intelligence did not lead to the capture of Saddam. Rather, there are claims that Saddam was actually captured by Kurdish partisans who took control of him after Saddam was betrayed by the Al-Jabour tribe. This betrayal coming due to the fact that Saddam's son Uday had raped a woman belonging to the tribe. Saddam was then turned over to the Kurdish Patriotic Front. The KPF then left Saddam for American soldiers to find, but not before negotiating a deal with the United States that would allow the party more power. The sources for these newest reports are un-named British intelligence officers and Iraqi intelligence officers. class="external">[1