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Eric Maddox, military interrogator who orchestrated capture of Saddam Hussein, speaks at University of Oklahoma

In November 2003, Eric Maddox participated in a Delta Force team's raid of a fish pond in Iraq he hoped would turn up something that might lead the team to Saddam Hussein. Within the next few days, U.S. forces would have the deposed dictator in custody.
by Silas Allen Published: March 31, 2013

After he changed his approach to interrogating subjects, the prisoners tended to be more responsive, he said.

In early November, Maddox's team raided a fishing pond in Tikrit hoping to find Mohammed Ibrahim, an insurgent commander and Hussein's right-hand man. U.S. forces knew Ibrahim used the pond for fishing and they hoped Ibrahim could lead them to Hussein.

As it happened, Maddox said, Ibrahim wasn't at the pond at the time. But the team took two prisoners, who Maddox took back to Baghdad to interrogate. One of the prisoners was a cousin of an associate of Ibrahim's and told Maddox where to find the friend.

U.S. forces then captured Ibrahim's associate, who told Maddox the team had captured Ibrahim earlier. Maddox's team had Ibrahim in custody and didn't know it, he said. So, Maddox went to look over the prisoners the team had taken. Ibrahim was among them, he said — Maddox recognized him immediately.

“He had a chin that looks like John Travolta's chin,” he said.

Maddox interrogated Ibrahim, eventually convincing him to give him Hussein's whereabouts. Maddox was scheduled to give a briefing in Doha, Qatar, later that day, and his plane was waiting. So he handed another interrogator a sketch to Hussein's location and asked him to call Maddox's team in Tikrit.

While Maddox was on his way to Doha, his team raided the house Ibrahim had pointed out and found nothing there. Then, Ibrahim began digging in the sand. As he was digging, he uncovered a piece of rope. A soldier pulled the rope out, bringing with it a lid that covered the spider hole where Saddam Hussein was hiding.

“That is how the United States military tracked down the ace of spades,” Maddox said. “So that's pretty much my story.”

by Silas Allen
General Assignment/Breaking News Reporter
Silas Allen is a news reporter for The Oklahoman. He is a Missouri native and a 2008 graduate of the University of Missouri.
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