US Navy Seal team's message for Saddam Hussein after being captured in Iraq

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Saddam Hussein being dragged out of his hiding following his capture by US troops in 2003 (Image: AFP/Getty Images)
Saddam Hussein being dragged out of his hiding following his capture by US troops in 2003 (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

Tyrant Saddam Hussein was told: “President Bush sends his regards” as he was captured by US forces.

The Iraqi dictator had been on the run for nine months when the elite team found him bearded and haggard in his underground lair.

Emerging from his hiding place just outside his home town of Tikrit, he was quickly disarmed and his gun was sent to then-US President George W Bush.

The details emerged as retired US Army Master Sergeant Kevin Holland, part of the team that tracked down the fugitive, spoke for the first time about the arrest on December 13, 2003.

US Navy Seal team's message for Saddam Hussein after being captured in Iraq eidehiqdqikinvUS President George Bush speaking with Prime Minister Tony Blair after the capture (AFP)

He said: “We had some human intel that showed us exactly where it was.

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"They had a big Styrofoam plug they’d put in and then cover it with leaves and dirt, sand, and it had a pipe for air. [We] just dug it away, pulled it up, and sand fell in.”

The team threw in a stun grenade and Hussein, then 66, emerged.

US Navy Seal team's message for Saddam Hussein after being captured in IraqA picture allegedly showing the fugitive at an unknown location in Iraq following his capture (AFP/Getty Images)

Holland went on: “Hands come out of the hole, and then a big bushy head of hair. We grab him and jerk him out, and it’s like, ‘Holy cow, it’s him’.”

He told how Hussein, who had a “fully automatic Glock-15”, was disarmed by a soldier named only as the “big Texan”.

Holland said: “He nails him in the mouth, knocks him down – he’s got a gun, he’s armed.

US Navy Seal team's message for Saddam Hussein after being captured in IraqThe entrance to the "spider hole" where Saddam Hussein was hiding (Getty Images)

“So we had to make sure that he couldn’t get to that gun.”

After restraining Hussein, they told him: “President Bush sends his regards.”

Holland told former Navy SEAL Jack Carr on his podcast Danger Close the hole 8ft deep and 6ft wide had “just enough room to lay down, and a little bench he could sit on”.

US Navy Seal team's message for Saddam Hussein after being captured in IraqAfter restraining Hussein, they told him: “President Bush sends his regards"

He added: “He was pretty beat-down. He just said he was the President of Iraq and that he’s ready to negotiate, and he said that in English. And we’re like, ‘That time’s passed, brother’.”

Hussein had regularly left his hiding place and had been alerted by locals to any approaching US forces.

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He was hanged for crimes against humanity on December 30, 2006, three years after his capture.

Holland served both in the US Navy’s elite SEALS and the Special Forces Delta team, and his eldest son has now joined the Green Berets.

Jeremy Armstrong

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