LDS soldier helps nab Saddam

Patriotic returned missionary enlisted after Sept. 11 attacks

Spend any time in uniform and it's certain you'll overhear this G.I. wisecrack: "Military Intelligence — an oxymoron."

Never fails to get a laugh.

That said, an LDS military-intelligence analyst is doing his part to debunk that favorite adage once and for all. Harold Engstrom, a returned missionary and U.S. Army corporal attached to the 104th Military Intelligence Battalion, played a pivotal role in last December's capture of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Brother Engstrom, 36, was one half of a two-person team that developed a chart identifying Hussein's relatives, associates and henchmen. The data included in the chart was then reportedly used to apprehend leaders of Iraqi resistance cells and eventually led U.S. troops to the hiding hole of Saddam himself.

The tenacious, eight-month effort of Brother Engstrom and his analysis partner, Lt. Angela Santana, were chronicled in a post-Saddam-capture article in the Wall Street Journal:

"The duo read through sheaves of interrogation reports from detainees and interviews with local Iraqis. They plumbed a huge database provided by central military intelligence. Eventually, they created what they nicknamed 'Mongo Link,' a four-page, 46-by-42-inch color-coded chart with 300 names on it. It was basically a family tree, with Saddam's' picture at the center, and lines connecting his tribal and blood ties to the six main tribes of the Sunni triangle: the Husseins, al-Douris, Hadouthis, Masliyats, Hassans and Harimyths. The military believed members of these clans shielded Saddam for eight months, financed the resistance and planned assassinations and attacks against Iraqis and coalition."

Working on chart information, U.S. forces nabbed a middle-aged man who would lead them to Hussein a day later, according to the Wall Street Journal. Brother Engstrom and Lt. Santana were working inside a military operations center in Tikrit when news arrived of Hussein's capture.

While Lt. Santana shouted with joy, "I was overcome more with a sense of relief," Brother Engstrom told the Church News via e-mail from Iraq. "Everyone jumped up, but I just took off my radio headphones, sat back, put my hands behind my head and let out a long sigh of relief."

A lifelong member of pioneer stock, Brother Engstrom grew up in Arizona and served a full-time mission to Holland and Belgium. He would go on to marry a fellow returned missionary, Beverly Weaver, claim degrees from the University of Utah and Grand Canyon University and become a high school English teacher in Phoenix.

"Then Sept. 11 happened and our world was instantly transformed," he said. "I enlisted in the Army, at age 34, a month later, feeling compelled to answer the call of duty in service to our great country." Sister Engstrom, a product of a military family, "instantly" supported her husband's decision.

Brother Engstrom says his Church mission taught him to rely on the Lord and be disciplined and humble. Such lessons "have helped me more than any of the doctrinal training received from the Army." He is the only member at his current location, so Brother Engstrom stays spiritually fit reading the scriptures and listening to general conference talks.

He adds he has enjoyed the guidance of the Holy Ghost during the long hours of intelligence analysis.

"Many, many times the prompting of the Holy Ghost has led me to act, think and respond in specific ways; many times seemingly in contrast to all known reporting/documentation."

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