- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 26, 2003

BAGHDAD — American troops hunting for a top Saddam Hussein deputy suspected of masterminding anti-U.S. attacks arrested his wife and daughter in an apparent attempt to pressure his surrender.

Troops of the U.S. 4th Infantry Division in Samarra, 70 miles north of Baghdad, arrested the wife and daughter of Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, a top Saddam associate, division spokesman Lt. Col. William MacDonald said yesterday.

Under Saddam, al-Douri was vice chairman of the ruling Revolutionary Command Council. Before the war began March 19, Saddam placed him in charge of defenses in northern Iraq.

Col. MacDonald gave no details on why the wife and daughter were seized. American forces have arrested relatives of fugitives to interrogate them on their family member’s whereabouts and as a way of putting pressure on the wanted men to surrender.

U.S. officials have said they think al-Douri has planned some of the attacks against U.S. forces and last week offered a $10 million reward for information leading to his capture. Al-Douri is No. 6 on the list of 55 most-wanted Iraqis.

Col. MacDonald said a man also was taken into custody during the raid on Tuesday.

The coalition’s handling of postwar Iraq came under sharp criticism yesterday from the retired American general who first led the occupation after Saddam’s fall.

In an interview on British Broadcasting Corp. radio, retired Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, who was replaced by L. Paul Bremer after less than a month in the job, said the coalition should have communicated better with Iraqis and moved more quickly to establish a government.

He also criticized Mr. Bremer’s decision to disband the Iraqi army.

“You’re talking about around a million or more people … that are suffering because the head of the household’s out of work,” providing potential recruits for the anti-U.S. insurgency.

Mr. Bremer has justified the disbanding by saying that the army already had dissipated during the last days of the war and that it was necessary to rid the military of Saddam’s Ba’athist supporters.

A coalition official called Gen. Garner’s criticism unfair.

“Jay Garner has not been here since June, and doesn’t really know all that’s been done,” the official said.

Meanwhile, two top Shiite Muslim leaders said they want changes in the U.S. plan to hand over power to Iraqis. They want elections sooner than the plan’s timetable for elections by March 15, 2005.

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