Some Iraqis stunned Saddam didn't fight back

Monday, December 15, 2003

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Saddam Hussein should have put up a fight or committed suicide, stunned Iraqis said Sunday after watching images of their fallen leader, haggard and humiliated, in American custody.

As news of his capture spread across the country, celebratory shooting erupted in Baghdad's streets, soldiers cheered and victims of his tyranny thanked the United States. Many said it marked a new beginning for Iraq.

But for some, his capture was a blow to hopes for Saddam's triumphant return, and his peaceful surrender was seen as a stain on Arab honor.

"He swore before the war that Iraqis would fight America, and then he didn't fire a single shot," said Kassem Shelshul, a 28-year-old chauffeur living in Baghdad. "We expected him to commit suicide or resist," he said after watching video of the captured dictator.

Video released by the U.S. military showed the bearded, wild-haired leader in custody, submitting to a doctor probing his mouth with rubber-gloved hands.

Some called Saddam a coward for getting caught. Others were glad he didn't die a martyr.

"He killed my son Mohammed and he tortured his people," 40-year-old Halem al-Jassen said as she celebrated in the street. "Thank God for the United States."

In the Kurdish city of Kirkuk in the north, eight people were killed and 80 wounded from gunfire during celebrations of Saddam's capture.

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