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Syria Hands Saddam's Half-Brother to Iraq

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-4829595,00.html Syria Hands Saddam s Half-Brother to Iraq Sunday February 27, 2005 7:01 PM By PATRICK QUINN
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 27, 2005

      Syria Hands Saddam's Half-Brother to Iraq

      Sunday February 27, 2005 7:01 PM


      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
      military said.

      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.
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