by Robert Fisk
So they are dead. Or are they? Even Baghdad exploded in celebratory, deafening automatic rifle fire at the news.
The burned, bullet-splashed villa in Mosul, the four bullet-ridden corpses, America's hopes--however vain--that the death of Saddam Hussein's two sons, Uday and Qusay, will break the guerrilla resistance to Iraq's US occupation troops, all conspired to produce an illusion last night: that the unidentified bodies found after a four-hour gun battle between Iraqi gunmen and US forces must be those of the former dictator's sons--because the world wants them to be.
Of course, they might be dead. The two men are said to bear an impressive resemblance to the brothers. A 14-year-old child killed by the Americans--one of the four dead--might be one of Saddam's grandsons. The house was owned by Mohamed el-Zidani, a tribal ally of the Husseins.
Qusay was a leader of the Special Republican Guard, a special target of the Americans. The two men obviously fought fiercely against the 200 American troops who surrounded the house. The Americans used their so-called Task Force 20 to storm the pseudo-Palladian villa on a main highway through Mosul.
Task Force 20 combines both special forces and CIA agents. But this is the same Task Force 20 that blasted to death the occupants of a convoy heading for the Syrian border earlier this month, a convoy whose travellers were meant to include Saddam himself and even the two sons supposedly killed yesterday. The victims turned out to be only smugglers.
And American intelligence--the organisation that failed to predict events of 11 September, 2001--was also responsible for the air raid on a Saddam villa on 20 March, which was supposed to kill Saddam. And the far crueller air raid on the Mansour district of Baghdad at the end of the air bombardment in April which was supposed to kill Saddam and his sons but only succeeded in slaughtering 16 innocent civilians. All proved to be miserable failures.