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Archive for Monday, February 16, 2004

Iraqi officials arrest ‘four of spades’

Baath leader one of U.S.’s most wanted

February 16, 2004

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— A special Iraqi police unit arrested a senior Baath Party leader on the U.S. military's most-wanted list during a raid Sunday on his home in a Baghdad suburb.

The capture of Mohammed Zimam Abdul Razaq leaves only 10 top figures still at large from the list of 55 issued after the Saddam Hussein regime fell. Abdul Razaq was No. 41, and the four of spades in the military's "deck of cards" of top fugitives.

Deputy Interior Minister Ahmed Kadhum Ibrahim touted the arrest as evidence that the still-rebuilding Iraqi police force "can be depended upon in the fight against terrorism" -- looking to give his troops a boost a day after police in the turbulent city of Fallujah were overwhelmed by dozens of gunmen in one of the best-organized guerrilla attacks yet.

Abdul Razaq headed Saddam's Baath Party in the northern provinces of Nineveh and Tamim, which include the cities of Mosul and Kirkuk. He earlier served as interior minister, and Ibrahim said he kept a "personal prison" behind the police academy where "innocent people" were held in dog cages.

Abdul Razaq was presented to reporters at the Interior Ministry, where he sat next to Ibrahim on a couch, wearing a black traditional Arab robe and a white headdress. He was then handed over to the U.S.-led coalition, Ibrahim said later at a press conference.

Police caught Abdul Razaq's trail when they were tipped off that his son was trying to obtain weapons and fake passports, Ibrahim said.

Police watched the elder Abdul Razaq for 10 days before the special operations unit, trained by U.S. experts, moved in on his house in the Baghdad suburb of Saydiya on Sunday afternoon and found him on the second floor, Ibrahim said. Abdul Razaq offered no resistance.

Ibrahim called on the highest-ranking figure still at large from the U.S. list, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, to surrender.

If al-Douri turns himself in, "he will be treated with dignity," Ibrahim said. Al-Douri, the former vice chairman of the ruling Revolutionary Command Council and a member of Saddam's innermost circle, is No. 6 on the U.S. most-wanted list.

Earlier Sunday, two U.S. convoys were attacked nearly simultaneously in the same western neighborhood in Baghdad. A roadside bomb went off by one of the convoys, causing no injuries.

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