Saddam's wife, daughter put on Iraq's most wanted list

Monday, July 3, 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Saddam Hussein's wife and eldest daughter are among 41 people on the Iraqi government's most wanted list, along with the new leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, a top official announced Sunday.

National security adviser Mouwafak al-Rubaie also said the former al-Qaida boss, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, had been buried secretly in Baghdad despite his family's demand that the body be returned to Jordan. Al-Zarqawi died June 7 from a U.S. airstrike northeast of Baghdad.

Al-Rubaie told reporters the government was releasing the most wanted list "so that our people can know their enemies."

Saddam's wife, Sajida Khairallah Tulfah, was No. 17, just behind the ousted leader's eldest daughter, Raghad. Sajida is believed to be in Qatar, and Raghad lives in Jordan, where she was given refuge by King Abdullah II.

"We have contacted all the neighboring countries and they know what we want. Some of these countries are cooperating with us," al-Rubaie said. "We will chase them inside and outside Iraq. We will chase them one after the other."

Iraqi officials have long alleged that Saddam's relatives who fled the country have been financing insurgent groups linked to the former ruling Baath party. Raghad has played a leading role in organizing her father's legal defense against charges stemming from his 23-year rule.

Jordanian Prime Minister Marouf Al-Bakhit said Sunday Raghad was not engaging in any political or media activities in Jordan.

Al-Bakhit said Jordan had not received any official request from Iraq with regard to Raghad's wanted status.

The No. 1 spot on the list went to Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, formerly Saddam's top lieutenant and the highest-ranking regime figure to elude capture. The U.S. has offered $10 million for al-Douri, who is alleged to be among the key organizers of the insurgency.

Although U.S. and Iraqi officials often draw attention to religious extremists in the insurgency, such as the members of al-Qaida in Iraq, most of those on the list had close links to Saddam's regime. They include Baath party leaders, intelligence officials and Republican Guard officers.

No. 30 on the list is Abu Ayyub al-Masri, also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, who was endorsed by Osama bin Laden as leader of al-Qaida's operations in Iraq in an audiotape posted Saturday on the Internet.

The government offered a $50,000 reward for al-Masri. Last week, the U.S. administration approved a reward up to $5 million for al-Masri, who is believed to be Egyptian.

"Those people are carrying out bombings and random killings as they aim to inflict damage on the Iraqi people and ignite a sectarian war between Shiites and Sunnis," al-Rubaie said.

Al-Zarqawi was blamed for many of Iraq's worst terror bombings before he was killed.

Confirming Al-Zarqawi burial, the U.S. military said only that he had been interred "in accordance with Muslim customs and traditions." It gave no more details, saying the issue was in the hands of the Iraqi government.

Al-Rubaie told The Associated Press that al-Zarqawi's body was in a secret grave in the capital but would give no other information.

In neighboring Jordan, al-Zarqawi's older brother demanded the body be sent to his homeland and accused President Bush's administration of lying about the burial.

"Bush took his body to the United States," Sayel al-Khalayleh told AP from his home in Zarqa. "Even if he is buried in Iraq, we will continue to ask for the body to be transferred and buried in Jordan. He should be buried in his own country."

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a member of Iraq's Shiite majority, was touring neighboring countries to bolster support for his new government and assure Sunni Arab leaders of his commitment to reconciliation among Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds.

He was holding talks after a deadly car bomb exploded Saturday at an outdoor market in a Shiite district of Baghdad, killing at least 66 people and wounding about 100. It was the deadliest attack since the new national unity government took office in May.

Al-Maliki met Saturday night with Saudi King Abdullah and Crown Prince Sultan, who expressed their support for his government, according to the official Saudi news agency.

Iraq's Arab neighbors fear sectarian tensions could spill over into their countries, which are dominated by Sunnis but have Shiite communities.

The Iraqi leader told the independent Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Qabas that if his government falters in the battle against terrorism, "there will be no Iraq left."

Al-Maliki's reconciliation initiative includes an offer of amnesty to many of the fighters the insurgency, which is dominated by the disgruntled Sunni Arab minority.

Spokesmen for two insurgent groups -- the Islamic Army in Iraq and the 1920 Revolution Brigade -- told Al-Jazeera television Sunday that they would reject the initiative unless it included a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces.

The spokesman for the Islamic Army, Ibrahim al-Shammari, also called for direct talks between insurgents and the United States.

Another militant leader, Abu Abdullah Rashid al-Baghdadi of the Mujahideen Shura Council -- an umbrella group that includes al-Qaida in Iraq -- urged Sunni insurgents to stay away from talks aimed at persuading them to abandon their weapons.

"We call on all the honest and faithful brigades who have chosen jihad to stick to their stances and be patient," said the statement read by a council spokesman, Abu Ammar al-Dulaimi. The message, the authenticity of which could not be verified, was posted on a Web site frequently used by militant groups.

Al-Maliki's government has so far made little progress in healing the rift between Shiites and Sunnis, which has widened dramatically recently.

The largest Sunni Arab bloc in parliament announced Sunday it was suspending participation until a Sunni female lawmaker was freed by kidnappers who seized her and seven bodyguards in a Shiite part of eastern Baghdad on Saturday. Sunni politician Adnan al-Dulaimi urged other lawmakers to join the boycott, saying security officials bore responsibility for Tayseer al-Mashhadani's abduction.

Moderate Shiite legislator Iyad Jamal al-Din also survived an assassination attempt on Sunday when a roadside bomb missed his convoy in Baghdad.

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