Syria Hands Saddam's Half-Brother to Iraq
Syria Hands Saddam's Half-Brother to Iraq
Sunday February 27, 2005 7:01 PM
By PATRICK QUINN
Associated Press Writer
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Iraqi officials said Sunday that
Syrian authorities had captured Saddam Hussein's
half-brother and 29 other officials of the deposed
dictator's Baath Party in Syria and handed them over
to Iraq in an apparent goodwill gesture.
The arrests dealt a blow to an insurgency that some
Iraqi officials claim Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan was
helping organize and fund from Syria. The U.S.
military said two American soldiers were killed Sunday
in an ambush in the capital.
Al-Hassan, a former Saddam adviser, was captured in
Hasakah in northeastern Syria near the Iraqi border,
two senior Iraqi officials told The Associated Press
by telephone on condition of anonymity. Hasakah is
about 30 miles from Iraq.
They added that al-Hassan was captured and handed over
to Iraqi authorities along with 29 other members of
Saddam's collapsed Baath Party, whose Syrian branch
has been in power in Damascus since 1963.
The Iraqi officials did not specify when al-Hassan was
captured, only saying he was detained following the
Feb. 14 assassination of former Lebanese Prime
Minister Rafik Hariri in Beirut, Lebanon, in a blast
that killed 16 others.
Syria has come under intense scrutiny following
Hariri's death, with many in Lebanon blaming Damascus
and Beirut's pro-Syrian government for the killing.
The United States and France also have called on
Damascus to withdraw 15,000 Syrian troops from
Washington has long accused Syria of harboring and
aiding former members of the toppled Baathist regime
suspected of involvement in the deadly insurgency.
``The capture appeared to be a goodwill gesture by the
Syrians to show that they are cooperating,'' one Iraqi
official told the AP.
A third Iraqi official, also speaking on condition of
anonymity, said Syrian security forces expelled
al-Hassan from Syria into Iraq after he and his
supporters had been turned back in an earlier attempt
to cross the Syrian border into Lebanon and Jordan.
Officials in interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's
office, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed
al-Hassan's capture but gave no other details. Capt.
Ahmed Ismael, an intelligence officer in the Interior
Ministry, said al-Hassan was detained early Sunday.
The U.S. military had no immediate comment.
Al-Hassan was No. 36 on the list of 55 most-wanted
Iraqis released by U.S. authorities after American
troops invaded Iraq in March 2003, and he also was
named one of the 29 most-wanted supporters of
insurgents in Iraq. The United States had a $1 million
bounty on his head.
In a statement, Allawi's office said the arrest
``shows the determination of the Iraqi government to
chase and detain all criminals who carried out
massacres and whose hands are stained with the blood
of the Iraqi people, then bring them to justice to
face the right punishment.''
It was not immediately known whether U.S. troops
played any role in the arrest of al-Hassan, who was
the six of diamonds in the U.S.-issued deck of cards
showing wanted Iraqis.
Saddam's two other half-brothers, Barzan and Watban,
were captured in April 2003 and are expected to stand
trial with Saddam at the Iraqi Special Tribunal. Both
appeared before the special court in Baghdad with
Saddam and a handful of others to hear preliminary
accusations against them.
Al-Hassan's arrest came during a period of increased
U.S. and Iraqi military activity against insurgents,
who continued their campaign of violence against
coalition forces and those Iraqis they believe are
helping them or sympathize with them.
Two U.S. soldiers were killed Sunday and another two
were wounded after apparently being ambushed in
southeast Baghdad with a bomb and rifle fire, the
The attack raised the weekend death toll for Americans
to three. The U.S. command said a Marine was killed
Saturday during military operations in central Babil
At least 1,494 members of the U.S. military have died
since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003,
according to an Associated Press count.
In the northern town of Hammam Alil, 240 miles north
of Baghdad, a bomb exploded inside the police
headquarters, killing five people, including some
police officers, said Khorshid Sultan, a coroner at
the main hospital in Mosul.
The hospital also said four police officers were
killed in an ambush while patrolling in Mosul.
In Baghdad, gunmen attacked police heading to work in
the western Amiriyah district, killing two, police
said. Authorities also found the body of an Iraqi
woman, dressed in traditional black, with a sign that
said ``spy'' pinned to her chest.
Police used explosives to blow up a car bomb in
central Baghdad's Kahramanah square, shaking
neighboring buildings. Security forces often blow up
such bombs on site instead of defusing them.
In Latifiyah, 20 miles south of Baghdad, Iraqi troops
found four beheaded corpses on a farm. The four people
belonged to the Badr Organization, a wing of the main
Shiite political group, the Supreme Council For the
Islamic Revolution. They were kidnapped earlier
Saturday while driving to the holy Shiite city of
Najaf, Yassin said.
The Badr Organization replaced the former Badr
Brigade, SCIRI's armed wing, which was dissolved after
a government order to disband militia groups last
Saddam and al-Hassan had the same mother but different
Under Saddam, al-Hassan led the dreaded General
Security Directorate, which was responsible for
internal security, especially cracking down on
political parties opposing Saddam. Al-Hassan was
accused of torturing and killing political opponents
while leading that body.
He later became a presidential adviser, the last post
he held in the former regime.
The government statement said he had ``killed and
tortured Iraqi people'' and ``participated effectively
in planning, supervising, and carrying out many
terrorist acts in Iraq.''
In December, Allawi accused Syria of harboring senior
officials from Saddam's ousted regime, including
al-Hassan. Qassem Dawoud, Iraq's minister in charge of
national security, claimed that al-Hassan was
supporting insurgents in Iraq from Syria, according to
remarks published last year in Kuwait's Al-Rai Al-Aam
Al-Hassan's capture was the latest in a series of
arrests the government hopes will deal a blow to the
``This is a great achievement for the Iraqi security
forces,'' National Security Adviser Mouwafak al-Rubaie
told Dubai's al-Arabiya TV. ``It is also a lesson for
others to give themselves up to the Iraqi
Iraqi authorities said Saturday they were close to
capturing the country's most-wanted terrorist, Abu
Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaida's mastermind in Iraq and
believed to be behind much of the insurgent violence.
A key al-Zarqawi aide and a man who served as his
driver were arrested Feb. 20.
The United States has placed a $25 million bounty on
Associated Press reporters Sameer N. Yacoub and Todd
Pitman in Baghdad, and Salah Nasrawi in Cairo, Egypt,
contributed to this report.