- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 19, 2003

With the restoration of Baghdad's electricity apparently still days away and street protesters angry at the U.S. military presence, U.S. forces had in custody Saturday another of the long list of most wanted supporters of Saddam Hussein, Iraq's finance minister.

Elsewhere, a convoy of trucks marked with United Nations' symbols carried food and medicine closer to the capital city and expected to arrive in a few days.

The latest regime official to be placed in custody was identified as Hikmat Ibrahim al-Azzawi, No. 45 on the list of 55 regime officials most wanted by the U.S.-led coalition. He was also a former deputy prime minister.

"He's a deputy prime minister. That in and of itself says that he has knowledge of the inner workings and the command structure of the regime," said U.S. Central Command spokesman Capt. Stewart Upton.

Al-Azzawi was apprehended by Iraqi police Friday, some of whom are now patrolling with automatic weapons, and turned over to the coalition.

Centcom also announced Saturday the surrender of Khala Khadr al-Salahat, a member of Palestinian Abu Nidal's terrorist organization. He surrendered to Marines in Baghdad. Al-Salahat is believed to have served as a personal secretary to Abu Nidal, who died last year.

Al-Salahat's capture came days after U.S. forces seized in Baghdad Palestinian guerrilla leader Abu Abbas, the mastermind of the 1985 hijacking of the Italian ship Achille Lauro.

In Germany, Seven U.S. soldiers held as prisoners of war in Iraq headed home Saturday after departing from Ramstein Air Base. U.S. Marines rescued the soldiers from Iraqi guards, who held the POWs captive for nearly three weeks.

The flight will first stop in Fort Bliss, Texas, home to the 507th Maintenance Company and five of the former POWs. The other two soldiers aboard the military transport flight — both Apache helicopter pilots — will then head to their home base, the First Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas.

In Saudi Arabia, foreign ministers of eight Mideast countries ended their meeting Friday with an urgent appeal to U.S. and British forces to stabilize Iraq and get out of the country as soon as possible.

The Pentagon announced Friday the identity of an F-15 pilot whose aircraft went down in Iraq April 6. Capt. Eric B. Das, 30, of Amarillo, Texas, was killed in action while supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Das was assigned to the 333rd Fighter Squadron, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C.

There are now 127 confirmed dead in the war. The back-seat officer of the F-15 and one Army soldier are still listed as missing.

Abu Dhabi TV Friday aired videotape showing a man who appears to be Saddam Hussein greeting a crowd of supporters as coalition forces entered Baghdad.

The new footage came as thousands of worshippers in Baghdad demanded an end to the U.S.-led military presence in Iraq and a senior Baath Party official was handed over to coalition forces.

Abu Dhabi said the videotape was taken April 9 as Saddam was losing control of Baghdad. In the tape, the man purported to be Saddam, in military uniform, is on the hood of a car, waving to supporters in what the network says is the Azamiyah neighborhood of Baghdad.

Saddam's son, Qusay, also appears to be in the videotape. Abu Dhabi did not disclose the source of the videotape nor of an accompanying audio tape in which Saddam is heard apparently acknowledging setbacks.

Thousands of Iraqis on Friday demanded the withdrawal of coalition forces from Iraq during a peaceful protest at a Baghdad mosque. The Iraqi capital was reported calm on the Muslim holy day.

Protesters carried banners reading "Iraq ruled by Iraqis" and "No occupation."


(Reported by Pamela Hess at the Pentagon, Anwar Iqbal at the U.S. State Department; William Reilly at the United Nations; Kathy Gambrell at the White House; Ghassan al-Kadi and Nick Horrock in Baghdad; and Elizabeth Bryant in Paris.)



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