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Four Top Iraqi Officials Captured

BY Admin  April 21, 2003 at 4:15 PM EDT

The official captures bring the number of “most wanted” regime members in custody to eight.

On Monday, forces affiliated with the opposition group the Iraqi National Congress said they had captured Mohammed Hamza al-Zubeidi, number 18 on the Defense Department’s most wanted Iraqis list, and turned him over to U.S. forces. U.S. Central Command confirmed al-Zubeidi was in custody.

Al-Zubeidi was reportedly an Iraqi deputy prime minister, Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council member, and military commander of Iraq’s central Euphrates region. Central Command officials said he played a major role in the brutal repression of a Shiite Muslim uprising in 1991.

The INC announced earlier Monday that its forces had captured Jamal Mustafa Sultan al-Tikriti, who they said had been Saddam’s assistant and only living son-in-law. A spokesman for the INC said the man had returned from Syria and would be turned over to U.S. forces.

Two members of the toppled government were captured over the weekend. Hikmat Ibrahim Al-Azzawi, who reportedly served as finance minister and a deputy prime minister in Saddam Hussein’s regime, was captured by Iraqi police Saturday and turned over to U.S. troops. Al-Azzawi was number 45 on the most wanted list.

Abdul-Khaleq Abdul-Ghafur, the minister of higher education and scientific research in the former regime and number 43 on the most wanted list, was also captured Saturday by U.S. troops.

The New York Times reported Monday that U.S. forces are also holding an unidentified top Iraqi scientist who has agreed to show them what the regime did with its weapons of mass destruction before the beginning of the war.

The man told an “American military team that Iraq destroyed chemical weapons and biological warfare equipment only days before the war began,” the Times reported.

The former scientist has also reportedly given U.S. officials information about weapons that may have been smuggled into Syria during the 1990s and Iraq’s alleged connections to the al-Qaida terrorist network.

U.S. officials “considered him credible and that the material unearthed over the last three days at sites to which he led them had proved to be precursors for a toxic agent that is banned by chemical weapons treaties,” the Times reported.

The Times said the man was found by “an American military team hunting for unconventional weapons in Iraq, the Mobile Exploitation Team Alpha, or MET Alpha” but the troops declined to identify him because they “feared he might be subject to reprisals.”