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U.S. Forces Capture Baath Party Official

Central Command Spokesman General Vincent Brooks said Friday, ”Last night coalition special operations forces captured another key member of the regime. Samir Abul Aziz al-Najim, one of the top 55 leaders of the regime, was handed over to coalition forces by Iraqi Kurds near Mosul in northern Iraq.”

In his capacity as a leader in Saddam’s ruling Baath party, al-Najim was reportedly in charge of eastern Iraq. He was number 24 on the coalition’s list of 55 “most wanted” members of Saddam’s regime and the four of clubs in a deck of playing cards issued to U.S. troops to help them identify the wanted officials.

“We know that he certainly has an insight on how the Baath Party Central Committee worked,” Brooks said.

Al-Najim was Saddam’s oil minister until earlier this year. He served as Iraq’s ambassador to Egypt, Turkey, Spain and Moscow, and was Saddam’s chief of staff for several years after the 1991 Gulf War. He is the fourth regime official recently captured in Iraq.

On Thursday, coalition forces arrested Barzan Ibrahim Hasan al-Tikriti, Saddam Hussein’s half-brother and key adviser, during a nighttime raid in Baghdad. On Sunday, Central Command announced the capture of Watban Ibrahim Hasan, who once served as Iraq’s interior minister. Saddam’s top scientific adviser Amer Hammoudi al-Saadi surrendered to U.S. troops in Baghdad last weekend.

“All the members of that list of 55 have useful information about the inner workings, the inside of this regime, and more importantly some of its actions and decisions that have been taken over time,” Brooks said. “That relates to some of the atrocities committed against the population, that relates to weapons of mass destruction and that relates to links to terrorism.”

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