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Saddam's half brother captured in Syria


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Former Saddam loyalists and Bathists captured in Syria......Syria........I wonder what the doom and gloom crowd thinks about this, considering how they used to call Bush and Rumsfeld liars when they said the insurgency was being run, supported, and financed by former Saddamites and regime leftovers, inclusing higher-uppers in the Hussein regime from Syria.......from Syria...

Interesting why Syria handed them over, isn't it? I wonder how many more are still there? Will Syria force their intelligence services to cease helping the jihadists? Did Iraqi's bring along anything else for safe keeping in Syria?

Saddam's half brother captured in Syria

Relative, 29 other former officials

of Baathist regime turned over to Iraq

Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan, a half brother of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, has been captured, the Iraqi government said Sunday.

The Associated Press

Updated: 2:05 p.m. ET Feb. 27, 2005

CAIRO, Egypt - Iraqi officials said Sunday that Syrian authorities captured Saddam Hussein's half brother, as well as 29 other officials of the deposed dictator’s Baath Party, in Syria and handed them over to Iraq in an apparent goodwill gesture.

Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan, who was also a former adviser suspected of financing insurgents after U.S. troops ousted the former dictator, was captured in Hasakah in northeastern Syria near the Iraqi border, two senior Iraqi officials told The Associated Press in Cairo, Egypt, on condition of anonymity.

The officials did not specify when al-Hassan was captured, only saying he was detained following the Feb. 14 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in Beirut, Lebanon.

But Capt. Ahmed Ismael, an intelligence officer in the Interior Ministry, said al-Hassan was detained early Sunday.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said al-Hassan was captured and turned over to Iraqi authorities along with the 29 other members of Saddam's collapsed Baath Party, whose Syrian branch has been in power in Damascus since 1963.

Officials in interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's office, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed al-Hassan's capture but gave no details on where it took place or when.

It was also not immediately known whether U.S. troops had played any role in the arrest. In Baghdad, the U.S. military had no immediate comment.

Suspected insurgent supporter

Under Saddam, al-Hassan served as head of the feared General Security Directorate, which was responsible for internal security, especially cracking down on political parties that opposed Saddam. Al-Hassan had been accused of torturing and killing political opponents when was head of the body.

Al-Hassan later served as head of Saddam's brutal intelligence service, which was also charged with spying on Iraqi exiles opposed to his powerful half-brother's regime.

During the seven-month Iraqi occupation of Kuwait that began in 1990, al-Hassan was in charge of security in the captured oil-rich state. Kuwaitis have accused him of massive human rights violations through torturing and killing local resistance fighters and others considered as being opposed to the Iraqi regime.

He later became a presidential adviser, the last post he held in the former regime.

Besides the list of the 55 most wanted, al-Hassan is among the 29 most-wanted supporters of insurgent groups in Iraq, according to U.S. Central Command.

On Dec. 28, Qassem Dawoud, Iraq's national security adviser, claimed that al-Hassan had taken refuge in Syria sometime after the U.S. invasion in 2003, according to remarks published in Kuwait's Al-Rai Al-Aam daily. From there, he was supporting insurgents in Iraq, Dawoud said.

Under close scrutiny

Syria has come under intense scrutiny following Hariri's death, with many in Lebanon blaming Damascus and Beirut's pro-Syrian government for the killing.

The United States and France also called on Damascus to withdraw 15,000 Syrian troops from Lebanon following Hariri's death.

Washington has long accused Syria of harboring and aiding former members of Saddam's toppled Baathist regime suspected of involvement in the deadly insurgency against U.S.-led forces in Iraq.

Damascus has denied such claims, but this has done little to convince U.S. authorities of Syrian involvement -- or at least knowledge -- in supporting the Iraqi insurgency, which has powered by Iraqi nationalists opposed to foreign occupation, once powerful Baathists and Islamic Jihadists.

"The capture appeared to be a goodwill gesture by the Syrians to show that they are cooperating," one official told the AP.

A third Iraqi official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said Syrian security forces expelled al-Hassan from Syria into Iraq after he and a group of supporters had earlier tried to cross the Syrian border into Lebanon and Jordan.

American Marine killed

Al-Hassan’s arrest came during a period of increased U.S. and Iraqi military activity against insurgents in areas west and south of Baghdad. The U.S. command announced that a U.S. Marine was killed during military operations south of the Iraqi capital.

The Marine, assigned to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, was killed in action on Saturday in Babil, a province just south of Baghdad that includes the troubled towns of Hillah, Iskandariyah, Mahmoudiya and Musayyib where insurgents are active.

Security forces also captured 15 suspected insurgents, including three Syrians, in raids, and Iraqi troops found four headless bodies dumped on a farm south of Baghdad, officials said Sunday.

In the capital, gunmen attacked police heading to work in a drive-by shooting in the western Amiriyah district, killing two of them, police said.

11 most-wanted still at large

Al-Hassan is No. 36 on the list of 55 most-wanted Iraqis released by U.S. authorities after troops invaded Iraq in March 2003, and one of only 12 remaining at large. He is also suspected of financing insurgents in the post-Saddam era, and Washington had put a $1 million bounty on his head.

Allawi spokesman Thaer al-Naqib said in an announcement that al-Hassan had “killed and tortured Iraqi people†and “participated effectively in planning, supervising, and carrying out many terrorist acts in Iraq.â€

According to the U.S. Central Command, only 11 of the 55 most-wanted remain at large following al-Hassan’s capture.

Official: 'Al-Zarqawi is very close'

Al-Hassan’s capture was the latest in a series of arrests the government hopes will deal a blow to the insurgency.

Iraqi authorities on Saturday said the were close to capturing the country’s most-wanted terrorist, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the al-Qaida in Iraq mastermind believed to be behind much of the insurgent violence in Iraq. One of al-Zarqawi’s key aides and a man who served as his driver were arrested Feb. 20.

“Al-Zarqawi is very close to falling into the hands of justice and there will be good news in the coming days,†Dawoud said Saturday.

Political activity moved apace Sunday as Shiite leaders haggled over Cabinet posts in a future government they hope to build around their candidate for prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari. The conservative Islamic Dawa party leader Ibrahim al-Jaafari was endorsed for the job Friday by Iranian-born Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the country’s most powerful Shiite cleric.

In other arrests announced Sunday, Iraqi National Guardsmen said they captured 15 alleged insurgents Saturday in a series of raids in Musayyib, about 50 miles southwest of Baghdad, said Capt. Sabah Yassin, a Defense Ministry official.

He said the 12 Iraqis and three Syrians confessed to being members of the insurgent Ansar al-Sunnah Army, which has claimed responsibility for attacks against U.S. and Iraqi forces, including a December suicide bombing that killed 22 people, most of them Americans, at a U.S. military mess tent at the northern city of Mosul.

Yassin said the 15 were found with weapons and CD’s showing beheadings.

In Latifiyah, 20 miles south of Baghdad, Iraqi troops found four beheaded corpses on a farm. The four, who belonged to the Badr Organization, a wing of the main Shiite political group, Supreme Council For the Islamic Revolution, or SCIRI, had been kidnapped earlier Saturday as they drove to the holy Shiite city of Najaf, Yassin said.

The Badr Organization replaced the former Badr Brigade, SCIRI’s armed wing, which was dissolved after a government order to disband militia groups last year.

Body of newscaster found

In Mosul, also in the north, the family of an anchorwoman for a U.S.-funded state television station — a mother of four who was repeatedly shot in the head — found her body dumped on a street.

The body of Raiedah Mohammed Wageh Wazan, the 35-year-old news presenter for the U.S.-funded Nineveh TV, was found six days after she was kidnapped by masked gunmen, according to her husband, who said she had been shot four times in the head.

The mother of three boys and a girl had been threatened with death several times by insurgents who demanded she quit her job, Saad-Allah said. The U.S. military confirmed insurgents had threatened station employees.

It was unclear what prompted the kidnapping, but Nineveh TV was attacked last week with mortar rounds that wounded three technicians. An Arabic-language Internet bulletin board recently carried a statement from al-Qaida in Iraq claiming responsibility for the mortar strike.

© 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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