WASHINGTON – U.S. government officials have all but concluded that Saddam Hussein is in control of his military and issuing orders as he moves in and around Baghdad through a series of underground catacombs that lead from one bunker to the next.
Based on intelligence reports, analysts told Fox News on Thursday that it is obvious and logical that Saddam is preparing for the battle of Baghdad, and that they are beginning to see large groupings of forces in Baghdad. One source said there are thousands of Iraqi troops taking positions in and around the city, even digging trenches downtown.
While this is under way, analysts looking at videotapes of Saddam have concluded that they were pre-recorded television appearances taped very shortly before each broadcast, rather than days and weeks in advance.
Officials say the prevailing question now is where is Saddam's younger son, 36-year-old Qusay Hussein.
Qusay is supposed to be in charge of Saddam's most loyal and fanatical fighters, the Republican Guard. When Saddam announced just before the war began that he was going to divvy up the country into four different command quadrants, Qusay was placed in charge of the western part of Iraq, which would be critically important if the Iraqis were to launch some sort of attack against Israel or another neighbor.
At this point, U.S. government officials said they have not been able to find a great deal of intelligence information to say that Qusay is in charge. One analyst said that after the bombing of Saddam's bunker, there were witness reports that someone had been carried out on a stretcher.
"That banged-up body that went out on a gurney may have been Qusay … we hope," the analyst told Fox News.
One reason officials say they believe Qusay may be out of commission is the largely non-existent presence of ground-to-ground missile launchers in Qusay's western region.
Fox News' Carl Cameron contributed to this report.