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Coalition Questions Claims of Al-Duri's Death, Continues Search

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 13, 2005 – Coalition forces continue the hunt for Izzat Ibrihim al-Duri, long-time Saddam Hussein associate, in spite of the latest Baath party announcement of his death, Multinational Force Iraq officials in Baghdad, Iraq, said today.

Coalition officials question the validity of the Baath party claim, officials said, and a reward of up to $10 million remains for information leading to his capture or gravesite.

Conflicting reports have arisen regarding al-Duri. On Nov. 12, a Baathist Web site reported his death, but the site's author has made false claims in the past, officials noted. Another Web site, also claiming to be associated with the former Baath Party, apologized for the false reporting of al-Duri's death and claimed that he is still alive.

Al-Duri remains the senior ranking fugitive among Saddam's former regime associates. Numerous reports indicate he is suspected to be in poor health and running out of hiding places and supporters willing to help him in northern Iraq, officials said.

Strong evidence exists that al-Duri's influence within the fragmented underground Iraqi Baath party leadership has rapidly diminished, officials said. They note that al-Duri is unable to maintain the visibility and contacts required to uphold loyalty among what little remains of his network and supporters.

Officials believe that al-Duri still has access to funds that he personally transferred to Syria, officials said. This money was looted from Iraq during the Saddam reign and now is being used to recruit and finance numerous insurgent attacks in Iraq, they said.

As the former minister of Interior, al-Duri is also suspected of playing a key role in the chemical shelling of Kurdish villages near the city of Halabjah in 1988, resulting in the deaths of 5,000 Kurds, officials said.

He is also suspected of direct involvement in mass executions, torture and destruction during the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait and the brutal repression of the Shiite uprising that followed the Gulf War in 1991.

(From a Multinational Force Iraq news release.)

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