London, May 2: The US military developed a special deck of cards to help its troops identify fugitive members of the Saddam Hussein Government. According to The Sun, as they were rounded up and taken to Camp Cropper near Baghdad Airport, Sergeant Mark Heinbaugh was able to get each one of them to sign their card. Even Saddam gave his signature, under the word Victor in red ink - the guards' codename for him. Those on the cards were all high-ranking Baath Party members or from the Revolutionary Command Council. Each card contains the wanted person's name, a picture if available, and their job.
The highest-ranking cards, starting with the aces and kings, were used for the people at the top of the most-wanted list. Saddam's card was the ace of spades. Mark's other signed cards were of Saddam's cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid al-Tikriti - dubbed Chemical Ali for his use of chemical weapons. He was the king of spades. He is now on death row for the massacre of 200,000 Kurds. Saddam's cigar-smoking deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz was the eight of clubs. Mark said he was "living in a mess" at the camp, throwing his unfinished food on the floor and leaving it to rot. Aziz has lung disease and is so ill that he is expected to die before his trial.
Saddam's half-brother, Barzan Ebrahim al Tikriti was the five of clubs. He was hanged last January. According to Mark, he was aggressive. "He tried to grab one of our guards and drag him into his room by his neck and shoulder," Mark said. Saddam's Interior Minister Mahmud Dhiyab al Ahmad scribbled "with my respect" on his card - the seven of spades.
The infamous 'Anthrax Annie' - Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash the five of hearts, used her card to protest her innocence. She scribbled: "Leadership? Yes. Scientist? Indeed. But WMD??!! By no means. A truth that'll shine one day . . . by the grace of god not far away." Mark said:
"We also called her Annie 'Shadyside'. Before the war she had worked as a scientist in the US and had been treated for cancer in Shadyside, Pennsylvania."
Mark, 45, who was serving with the Pennsylvania National Guard, was dispatched to Camp Cropper for a year from March 2004 - three months after Saddam's capture. Saddam was hanged in 2006.
Mark added: "A lot of the detainees were happy to sign the cards. They said it made them look like celebrities. They were happy to be remembered. I think I am the only soldier with practically a full set of signed cards. And I got a signature from Saddam himself.
"A friend was guarding him and got him to sign my ace of spades.
"They said he did it with no complaint at all."