Sunday, February 27, 2005

Saddam's Half-Brother Captured in Iraq Syria ?

(Reuters) - Security forces in Iraq have captured Saddam Hussein's half-brother, one of the most wanted men in the country and the first top-level Baath Party member to be detained in more than a year.

Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hasan al-Tikriti, an intelligence chief and one-time adviser to the former president, was number 36 on the U.S. military's list of the 55 most-wanted people in Iraq.

Iraq's government announced Ibrahim's capture in a statement, but did not say when he was seized, where he was seized or whether U.S. or Iraqi forces had captured him. More details were expected at a news conference later Sunday.

Several months ago, Iraqi government officials said Ibrahim, who was born to the same mother as Saddam, was one of two senior officials in Iraq's now defunct Baath Party directing the anti-American insurgency from neighboring Syria.

Hailing the capture, the interim government said in a statement it would seize "all criminals who committed massacres and those who have their hands stained with the blood of the Iraqi people," and deliver them to justice.

Ibrahim, who had a $1 million bounty on his head, is the first person on the list to be detained since February 2004, when number 41, Muhammad Zimam al-Sadun, was taken into custody.

Nearly a dozen of the 55 remain at large, including Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, one of Saddam's top aides, who is number six.

Ibrahim's brothers Watban and Barzan -- numbers 37 and 38 in a U.S. pack of cards -- were seized in April 2003 and are being held at a U.S. military facility on the outskirts of Baghdad.

They are due to be tried in the coming months, part of a group of 12, including Saddam, who will be the first people to go before the country's special tribunal.

Ibrahim's capture follows a series of arrests of senior members of the insurgency in recent weeks, both members of the former regime and Sunni Muslim fighters.
Friday, the government announced the capture of Abu Qutaybah, described as a key lieutenant of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant who is al Qaeda's leader in Iraq and has been behind some of the country's bloodiest attacks.