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U.S. Forces Capture Eight Iraqis Pictured on "Most Wanted" Playing Cards Posted:4.21.03
Shortly after U.S. troops took control of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, the military distributed a deck of 55 playing cards, each showing a different member of Saddam's government wanted for questioning.
The idea is that the soldiers would play with the cards in their down time, becoming familiar with the names and faces of the sought-after Iraqi officials.
U.S. military officials hope the captured Iraqi officials will yield information about other leaders, Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction and the government's ties to terrorist groups, the military says. The higher the card, the more important the official; Saddam Hussein is the ace of spades.
The latest arrests
Muhammad Hazmaq al-Zubaydi, who played a key role in the brutal suppression of the Shiite Muslim uprising of 1991, was arrested Monday in Iraq, according to U.S. Central Command. His face was on the queen of spades card.
Also Monday, forces affiliated with the opposition group the Iraqi National Congress said they had captured Jamal Mustafa Sultan al-Tikriti, Saddam's former assistant.
Jamal Mustafa Sultan (al-Tikriti is not his last name, but rather identifies him as part of Saddam's tribe) is married to Saddam's youngest daughter, Hala, and was deputy head of the Tribal Affairs Office. Portrayed as the nine of clubs in the U.S. military's most wanted deck, he ranks number 40 out of the 55 top Iraqi officials sought by the allies.
U.S. officials believe the king of spades, Ali Hassan al-Majid, was killed by an air strike. He was known as ''Chemical Ali'' and the ''Butcher of Kurdistan'' for his role in a 1987-88 campaign in which chemical weapons were allegedly used to kill tens of thousands of Kurds in northern Iraq.
Past use of cards
This is not the first time the military has used decks of cards in a combat operation. In World War II, soldiers played with "spotter cards" illustrating enemy tanks, ships and planes to help gunners identify aircraft before shooting them down.
The United States Playing Card Company, based in Cincinnati, says it also produced decks of cards that were sent as gifts to American prisoners of war in Germany during the second World War. When the captured soldiers put the cards in water, they peeled apart to reveal a hidden map outlining escape routes.
During the Vietnam War, two lieutenants in the 25th Infantry Division wrote the company and asked for decks of cards containing nothing but the ace of spades. The officers explained that the so-called "death" card sparked fear in the superstitious North Vietnamese and Viet Cong and the U.S. soldiers left them as an eerie warning after battles.
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