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For nine months, U.S. and coalition forces hunted Saddam Hussein across Iraq, yet many people don’t realize that it was an unlikely love of fish and fishing that would lead to his capture and eventual execution.

Gathering Intelligence

Military intelligence comes from a variety of sources but most notably through interrogation of prisoners. One of the U.S. interrogators in Iraq at the time was Eric Maddox, a former Army Ranger who re-enlisted as an interrogator. U.S. Special Forces would raid locations to capture high-value targets, but more often than not would return with other captives who would have info that would lead them to more important people. Little fish lead to bigger fish.

Saddam’s Fishing Obsession

Maddox would receive prisoners and attempt to extract any worthwhile intel. One prisoner of particular interest was a man they linked to the No. 2 in command, Mohammad Ibrahim, the right-hand man of Saddam and the one person who would know where he would be. After developing a rapport with the prisoner, Maddox asked, “What does he like to do?” The prisoner responded, “He loves to fish.” Maddox responded, “Well that’s cool,  I’m from Oklahoma and I think I’m the only one who doesn’t like to fish.” The prisoner went on to reveal that Saddam’s men had recently built and stocked a pond with carp, branzino, and asps that Mohamad Ibrahim liked to target.

Special Fishing Operation Launched!

Following the hot lead about Mohammad Ibrahim’s passion for fishing, Special Forces jumped into action, leading a raid on the suspected fishing pond. Unfortunately, they didn’t find Ibrahim but did capture two local fishermen who were presented to Maddox.  One of the fishermen admitted to knowing Ibrahim, telling Maddox that he had been hired to stock the pond with fish for Saddam Hussein to eat. Another prisoner, identified as one of Saddam’s cooks, claimed that the dictator was obsessed with a fish dish, “He eats one thing, this fish … it is called masgouf … he can’t go more than a few days without it.”

cooking carp fish
Clockwise from upper-left: Luca Brasi hangs with Branzino; US Army sergeant chilling (photo by Sgt. 1st Class Douglas W. Anderson/US Army); Eric Maddox receives a Legion of Merit for Operation Red Dawn; Dictator hooked (Dod Photo)

The dots were being connected: The reason for the fisherman and the stocked ponds was to satiate Saddam’s cravings for his favorite food—masgouf. The most wanted man in the world couldn’t just stroll down to the market—it would raise too much attention—but he could hire a fisherman to catch and deliver fish.

After the fisherman began spilling the worms, he let Maddox know that they would find Mohammad Ibrahim in Baghdad and provided a location. Another tip, another raid, another disappointing result.

Catching Saddam’s No. 2

That’s when Maddox realized, maybe they already had Ibrahim. What if in the chaos they hadn’t identified him properly? Maddox went one by one, lifting the black hoods of the prisoners to reveal their faces. He made it down the row, lifting the hood of the final prisoner to reveal Mohammad Ibrahim and his identifiable cleft chin. They had their No. 2 and were so close to Saddam they could taste the masgouf.

Big Fish On!

Hours of interrogation later, Mohammad Ibrahim recognized the end was near and unavoidable.

“He’s in Tikrit.”

With those few words uttered, Special Forces launched into action. They searched but still couldn’t find Saddam. They brought out Mohammad Ibrahim to eliminate any room for error. Hands still zip-tied together, he walked over and kicked at the ground to reveal a rope. That rope, when pulled, revealed the opening to a small enclosure that was home to a very disoriented and disheveled Saddam Hussein.

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And in other Hook & Barrel Strange Brew-esque news…

Possible World Record Bighead Carp Cranked Up In Missouri

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) confirms George Chance of Festus is the latest state record holder after catching a massive 97-pound bighead carp from the Mississippi River. Chance was bank fishing for catfish with a bottom-bouncing crankbait when he hooked into the fish March 19. The previous pole-and-line state record was an 80-pound fish caught from the Lake of the Ozarks in 2004.

“You kind of know what a fish is once you hook into it based on how it fights,” Chance said. “It was moving pretty slow and I originally thought it could be a flathead.”

carp fishing

Chance was fighting with the fish for around 20 minutes before he finally got it onto the shore.

“The more it fought, I saw it’s tail and knew it was some type of carp,” he recalled. “I was able to hook him with a hay hook in order to get him out of the water. It looked to be 50 or 60 pounds at least.”

A New State-Record Carp, Oh My

Chance took the monster fish to a nearby recycling center to use their scale, which prompted him to call his local conservation agent.

“They told me it was a state record, and I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me!’”, he laughed. “Then later they said ‘It’s not just a state record, it’s a world record!’ and I said ‘You’ve got to be kidding me!’ I had no idea this would happen would I woke up that morning.”

Chance’s catch is the third state record fish recorded for 2024. The fish also beats the current bighead carp pole-and-line world record of 90-pounds.

Carp For Garden Compost

“I chopped up the fish and put it in my garden,” Chance said. “I’m going to eat it in the form of tomatoes and cucumbers.”

Chance also noted the carp was full of eggs and likely would have spawned this spring. Bighead carp are an invasive fish from Asia. MDC encourages people to harvest carp to help remove them from Missouri waters.

Missouri state record fish are recognized in two categories: pole-and-line and alternative methods. Alternative methods include trotline, throwline, limb line, bank line, jug line, gig, bow, crossbow, underwater spearfishing, snagging, snaring, grabbing, or atlatl. For more information on state record fish, visit short.mdc.mo.gov/ZCp.

Source: thewaterwire.com

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