The special forces, aided by American Marines, reportedly captured Barzan without any Iraqi or U.S. casualties after being tipped off by Iraqi sources.
Brigadier General Vincent Brooks said Barzan was one of the regime’s inner circle of advisers.
“Barzan is…an adviser to the former regime leader with extensive knowledge of the regime’s inner working. There were no friendly or enemy casualties. The capture demonstrates the coalition’s commitment to relentlessly pursuing the scattered members of a fractured regime,” Brooks told reporters at the Central Command headquarters in Qatar.
Judith Yaphe, who specialized in the Middle East for 20 years at the CIA, agreed, saying his capture would be one of the more significant arrests.
“Barzan is the brother I would want to get, the half-brother; he was the one who was in Geneva many years, a real thug, head of security and intelligence and supposedly knew where a lot of money and assets taken abroad were buried. I would like to get my hands on him,” Yaphe said Sunday on the NewsHour.
Barzan was head the Iraqi intelligence agency from 1979 through 1983. He later became Iraq’s representative to the United Nations in Geneva Switzerland.
Despite these significant positions, analysts at GlobalSecurity.org said Barzan’s relationship with Saddam and his sons were at times highly strained.
“Barzan has pushed a claim to succeed Saddam against Uday and Saddam’s younger son Qusay. His evident reluctance to return to Iraq at the end of 1998 put him under the spotlight of suspicion, and he has been interrogated at length by Qusay,” GlobalSecurity.org reported on its Web site. “By mid-1999 the tide had turned against Barzan as Saddam’s immediate family has accused him of plotting to overthrow the regime. Those charges may have caused Barzan to briefly flee abroad before returning to Baghdad.”
Brooks said American forces are questioning Barzan.
“We are currently asking a number of questions… finding out whatever we can from this capture,” Brooks said.
According to Central Command, Barzan ranked “about 38 on the list of 55” regime figures the coalition is looking to capture, appearing on the five of clubs card in the deck of playing cards issued to American troops. Late last week, American forces launched six bombs at Barzan’s house west of the Baghdad.
He is also the second of Saddam’s half-brothers to be detained by the coalition. On Sunday, Central Command announced the capture of Watban Ibrahim Hasan, who once served as Iraq’s interior minister.