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Coalition Takes "Queen of Spades," Continues Security Operations

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 22, 2003 – The coalition has trumped the Queen of Spades in the Iraqi most-wanted deck.

Muhammad Hamza Zubaydi, a former prime minister and member of the Revolutionary Command Council in Iraq, is in coalition custody, said U.S. Central Command officials. He is the highest-ranking member of the former regime taken to date.

Following the 1991 Gulf War, Zubaydi was responsible for the brutal repression of the Shiite Muslims in the south and the virtual elimination of the so-called "Marsh Arabs."

Coalition forces also took control of Jamal Mustafa Adallah Sultan al-Tikriti from representatives of the Iraqi National Congress, said Army Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, deputy chief of operations for the command. Brooks briefed from Qatar today.

The captures raises to eight the number of the 55 most-wanted in coalition custody, Brooks said. U.S. officials believe another Ali Hasan al-Majid al-Tikriti was killed in a bombing attack near Basra.

Coalition operations continue to shift from war to establishing security in the country and setting the conditions for a stable and free Iraq, Brooks said. "Dangers are still evident," the general said. Marines near Mosul came under direct fire from a small and disorganized force, he said. The Iraqi force escaped.

"There will still be firefights like this," Brooks said. "It's not uncommon to stability operations, and there will also be offensive action to defeat any of the elements that are identified who would seek to cause instability through force."

Army 5th Corps forces took over responsibility for the entire city of Baghdad moving into the eastern area formerly held by the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, Brooks said. Defense officials said the Marines have repositioned south of the city.

Coalition forces have found more than 800 "suicide vests." They also found furniture with explosives and electronic timing devices imbedded. "The finding of such devices reinforces the reality that terrorist tactics and actions were certainly supported by the regime," Brooks said. "Further, it reinforces the need for deliberate work to root out the terrorists that are still present in Iraq."

Coalition forces are working with local electrical, oil and water experts to restore services. Brooks said the three industries are linked together. Bringing up one will bring up all. Electrical power in southern Baghdad was restored yesterday, and this will help bring clean water to city residents.

A Kurdish terrorist group has also negotiated a cease-fire with the coalition. The People's Mujaheddin had a presence inside Iraq for some years, Brooks said.

"Initially some of our reactions included targeting them with lethal fires," he said. "There were some movements and negotiations handled by coalition special operations forces. At this moment a cease-fire is in effect and some of the People's Mujaheddin have moved into what can best be described as assembly areas a non-combat formation."

Coalition mobile exploitation teams continue the deliberate search for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. These are groups of interagency experts who can assess sites and perform detection for chemical, biological or nuclear weapons or materials.

The teams are checking out known sites and are also looking at sites Iraqis point out to them. The teams "evacuate" samples to the United States for further testing. Brooks said the teams are working in a deliberate manner and when the test results are known, they will be released.

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