Abu Ghurayb Presidential Site
There is some considerable confusion on the part of Western intelligence concerning the most appropriate nomenclature for the palace complex that envelopes the airport to the South, East and North. In the DoD Briefing on Iraqi Denial and Deception of Oct. 8, 2002 the Radwaniyah presidential palace was said to be the extensive complex to the East and North of the Airport. Subsequently, the NIMA map of Baghdad assigns this nomenclature to the much smaller palace complex to the South of the Airport. This map assigns the name Abu Ghurayb to the palace to the East of the Airport, while the palace to the North of the Airport is termed "Presidential Palace North" -- otherwise known as the Qasr Al-Faw Palace.
The presidential palace at Abu Ghraib (Abu Ghurayb) includes a command bunker, sleeping quarters and a large underground military and intelligence center. The Abu Ghraib complex was one of eight designated presidential palaces, and Iraq's decision to declare it off-limits to UN arms inspectors spurred the 1998 US-Iraqi showdown.
Special Republican Guards, regarded as particularly loyal to Saddam Hussein, were billeted at a base at Abu Ghraib. The Eighth Battalion (Security) headquarters was located at Ridhwaniyeh/Saddam International Airport near the prefabicated residences of airport employees formerly used to house the French company that supervised the building of the airport, near the Al-Faris Al-Arabi Club. The Eighth Battalion was tasked with protecting the entrances to the airport from the Airport Highway and from the Abu Ghraib road.
Construction at the Abu Ghurayb Presidential Palace was ongoing during the 1990s. It featured extensive and complex water works. The Abu Ghraib palace is an extravagant amalgam of marble, tile, gold fittings and massive chandeliers, all surrounded by an azure artificial lake. The palace features extensive and complex water works. Saddam Hussein's government claimed extensive crop damage due to drought, yet didn't hesitate to use scarce water resources to ensure that the lakes of Saddam's palaces were filled and grounds well cared for.
The Qasr al Faw Palace was one of Saddam's newer palaces. The Al Faw Palace is named after a southern town that was occupied by the Iranians and then won back in a bloody siege that cost thousands of lives. It is set on an artificial lake that looks like blue-green glass. All around the lake are Roman-style villas. Saddam reportedly had the palace built to commemorate his nation's "victory" over Iran. He would bring guests there to watch or hunt the wildlife and relax by the lakes.
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