US forces who captured a dishevelled Saddam Hussein on Saturday 13 December found no communications equipment, maps or other evidence of a guerrilla command center at Saddam's hiding place.

"Given the location and circumstances of his capture, it makes it clear that Saddam was not managing the insurgency, and that he had very little control or influence.

"That is significant and disturbing because it means the insurgents are not fighting for Saddam, they're fighting against the United States," said Sen. Jay Rockefeller, the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

US intelligence officials have previously said they believe Saddam was too concerned with survival and staying hidden to provide much more than symbolic leadership.  

Ties to guerilla war

Saddam's interrogators are initially focusing on the former Iraqi president's ties to the guerrilla war, pressing him for intelligence about impending attacks and the locations of resistance leaders, US officials said Sunday.

Of secondary concern, at the outset, is whether Saddam will answer the many unresolved questions about Iraq's alleged efforts to develop chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and his government's ties to terrorism, the officials said.

"Given the location and circumstances of his capture, it makes it clear that Saddam was not managing the insurgency"

Senator J Rockefeller
Senate Intelligence Committee, Vice chairman

That will be addressed down the road, perhaps when interrogators have established a rapport with Saddam, according to the officials, who spoke only on condition of anonymity.

During Saddam's arrest, US troops discovered "descriptive written material of significant value," one US commander in Iraq told The Associated Press.

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the top US military commander in Iraq, described Saddam as talkative and cooperative. Other officials, however, shied away from suggesting he has provided any useful intelligence immediately right away after his capture.

Knowledge

Interrogators' immediate hope is that Saddam will supply a wealth of knowledge on the insurgency against the US-led occupation force and its Iraqi allies, officials said.

But it is a race against the clock. His information grows more outdated by the hour, and other leaders from Saddam's toppled government can move or take other steps to avoid capture.

US officials want to know the role and whereabouts of Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri. He is the ex-Revolutionary Command Council vice chairman and longtime Saddam confidant whose family and loyalists are believed to be helping the insurgency.