Izzat Ibrahim

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According to an early morning Reuters news story on December 2, 2003 -- "U.S. Forces Kill or Seize Top Saddam Aide-Politicians" -- Izzat Ibrahim, "right-hand man to Saddam Hussein and the next most wanted Iraqi leader" was believed to have either been "killed or captured in a U.S. raid near the city of Kirkuk," according to the Iraqi Governing Council.

"Local government officials in Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, said the town was abuzz with talk that Ibrahim had been captured. Local police said he had been found in a raid in the town of Hawija, west of Kirkuk. ... Witnesses said Hawija was sealed off overnight in a large-scale U.S. raid. Nobody was allowed in or out."

At the time of the report, U.S. forces made "no immediate comment."

However, a subsequent news story from Reuters, posted within hours of the earlier report, stated that Ibrahim had not been caught in an Iraqi raid.

As stated in the earlier story, "The U.S. military said last month that Ibrahim was directly involved in attacks on U.S. troops, and put a $10 million price on his head. U.S. forces said they had detained Ibrahim's wife and daughter in the town of Samarra. ... Ibrahim is sixth on the U.S. list of the 55 top Iraqi fugitives, but all those in the top five except for Saddam have been killed or captured. ... In a deck of cards issued to U.S. troops to help them identify fugitives, Ibrahim is the King of Clubs."[1]

Also on December 2, 2003, nearly at the same time as Reuters' first story, AFP reported that there was a Massive search launched for Saddam's number two. No mention was then made of Ibrahim's possible death or capture.

However, the scenario becomes complicated since, while Reuters is claiming that Ibrahim had not been captured, the AFP reports online that he has:

"Major figure" of Saddam's regime killed or captured: council member:

"A member of the US-installed Iraqi Governing Council, Muaffak al-Rubai, told Al-Jazeera satellite channel that a 'major figure' from Saddam Hussein's former regime had been 'killed or captured' in the northern Iraqi Kirkuk region.
"'Among the people arrested or captured, is a big fish ... a major figure whose identity is being verified,' said Rubai, when asked about reports that Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, Saddam's number two, had been captured or killed by US forces. 'The initial results are encouraging and very positive,' he said."
"The police chief in Hawijah, Commander Awad al-Obeidi, said that US troops had encircled the town since 5:00 am (0200 GMT) and made dozens of arrests. ... Asked whether Ibrahim was among those detained, Obeidi said: 'No information is available as to his capture or killing.' ... The Kirkuk police official said that part of the search focused on Ibrahim's eldest son Ahmad, based on new intelligence that he was in the area."

Photo: Izzat Ibrahim.

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