- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 15, 2004

BAGHDAD — A special Iraqi police unit arrested a senior Ba’ath party leader on the U.S. military’s most-wanted list during a raid yesterday on his home in a Baghdad suburb.

The capture of Mohammed Zimam Abdul Razaq leaves only 10 top figures still at large from the list of 55 issued after Saddam Hussein’s regime fell. Mr. Abdul Razaq was No. 41, and the four of spades in the military’s “deck of cards” of top fugitives.

Deputy Interior Minister Ahmed Kadhum Ibrahim touted the arrest as evidence that the still-rebuilding Iraqi police force “can be depended upon in the fight against terrorism” looking to give his troops a boost a day after police in the turbulent city of Fallujah were overwhelmed by dozens of gunmen in one of the best organized guerrilla attacks yet.

U.S. officials gave conflicting reports yesterday on whether foreign fighters or Saddam loyalists carried out the daytime assault on the Fallujah police station.

At least 25 persons, mostly police, were killed in the raid. More than 30 were wounded, and the attackers freed dozens of prisoners at the station. The assault raised questions about whether Iraqi security forces are ready to take the front line against the insurgency when the United States hands over power to the Iraqis on June 30.

Mr. Abdul Razaq headed Saddam’s Ba’ath party in the northern provinces of Nineveh and Tamim, which include the cities of Mosul and Kirkuk. He earlier served as interior minister, and Mr. Ibrahim said he kept a “personal prison” behind the police academy where “innocent people” were held in dog cages.

Mr. Abdul Razaq was presented to reporters at the Interior Ministry, where he sat next to Mr. Ibrahim on a couch, wearing a black traditional Arab robe and a white headdress. He was then handed over to the U.S.-led coalition, Mr. Ibrahim said at a press conference later.

Police picked up Mr. Abdul Razaq’s trail when they were tipped off that his son was trying to obtain weapons and fake passports, Mr. Ibrahim said.

Police watched the elder Mr. Abdul Razaq for 10 days before the special-operations unit trained by U.S. experts moved in on his house in the Baghdad suburb of Saydiya yesterday afternoon and found him on the second floor, Mr. Ibrahim said. Mr. Abdul Razaq offered no resistance.

Mr. Ibrahim called on the highest-ranking figure still at large from the U.S. list, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, to surrender.

If Mr. al-Douri turns himself in, “he will be treated with dignity,” Mr. Ibrahim said. Mr. al-Douri, the former vice chairman of the ruling Revolutionary Command Council and a member of Saddam’s innermost circle, is No. 6 on the U.S. most-wanted list.

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