- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 6, 2003

TIKRIT, Iraq — Iraqi police Sunday arrested the brother of one of Saddam Hussein’s top bodyguards and handed him over to U.S. forces, who wanted the man for organizing guerrilla attacks against American soldiers, the U.S. military said yesterday.

Lt. Col. Steve Russell, of the 4th Infantry Division, said he could not identify the man but that he was the brother of Adnan Abdullah Abid al-Musslit, the top-level Saddam bodyguard who was captured July 29 in Tikrit.

Mr. al-Musslit, as “one of Saddam’s lifelong bodyguards,” was believed to have detailed knowledge of the former president’s hiding places, Col. Russell said at the time.

Also, soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division detained 18 reported former regime loyalists in seven overnight raids across north-central Iraq, Maj. Josslyn Aberle said.

The military also reported it had uncovered a large weapons cache about 25 miles northeast of Tikrit on Sunday. The stockpile included two unidentified 20-foot-long missiles, 3,000 mortar rounds, 250 antitank rockets and nearly 2,000 artillery rounds, Maj. Aberle said.

An Iraqi informant led soldiers to the cache, Maj. Aberle said.

The military also reported foiling a rocket-propelled grenade attack on American forces in the center of Tikrit, where soldiers spotted a man armed with a launcher as he prepared to fire from an alley.

“He was sneaking through an alleyway, and we engaged him,” Col. Russell said yesterday. “Soldiers saw him fall, but when we got down to the area where they engaged him, we were unable to find the body. But there’s no doubt that we hit him.”

Also yesterday, the U.S. military reported a soldier died in Mosul, 240 miles north of Baghdad, after falling off a building he was guarding. The military released no other details, but said there was no indication of foul play.

American soldiers in Tikrit, meanwhile, planned to begin training recruits for Iraq’s civil defense force in the coming week, Col. Russell told reporters.

The armed militia will receive basic military training to protect key infrastructure, such as bridges and marketplaces, from attack and sabotage by insurgents and will serve as a quick reaction force to fight rebels who attack U.S. forces or civilian targets, Col. Russell said.

“They will help protect infrastructure, they will do nonpolicing tasks so that if there are attacks on government buildings they will be able to respond,” Col. Russell said.

Thirty-five men will be trained initially to serve as the core for the new Iraqi defense force. After completing their training — which is expected to last a few weeks — the force will be armed with AK-47s and outfitted in the same “chocolate chip” desert camouflage uniforms that U.S. troops wore during the 1991 Gulf war, Col. Russell said.

Gen. John Abizaid, head of U.S. Central Command, announced the establishment of the militia July 22, saying there were plans for eight battalions of armed Iraqi militiamen, each with about 850 men. Col. Russell said similar training programs were expected to begin shortly in other parts of Iraq.

The first recruits were nominated by tribal leaders in the Tikrit area, Col. Russell said.

On Tuesday, an American civilian delivering mail to U.S. forces in the Tikrit region was killed when his truck was blown apart by a remotely detonated land mine north of the city, the military and his employer said.

He was on a daily run from Baghdad’s international airport to the Tikrit region to the north when the mine exploded, said Wendy Hall, a spokeswoman for his employer, Kellogg Brown & Root.

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