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No. 41 on 'most wanted' list captured in Iraq

Al-Razzaq is a former regional Baath Party chairman.
Al-Razzaq is a former regional Baath Party chairman.

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Muhammad Zimam Abd al-Razzaq al Sadun, No. 41 on the U.S.-led coalition's list of most wanted Iraqis, was captured Sunday in a Baghdad suburb, Iraqi and coalition officials said.

Al-Razzaq -- four of spades in the Pentagon's "Most Wanted Iraqis" deck of playing cards -- was being held in an undisclosed location, according to a statement from the U.S.-led coalition occupying Iraq.

He is a former regional Baath Party chairman and was apprehended by Iraqi Interior Ministry forces, an interior ministry official said.

Al-Razzaq was hiding in an upstairs room of a home in Baghdad's Al-Saydea neighborhood, coalition officials said. His capture was the result of a joint U.S-Iraqi investigation that already had led to a series of raids, the coalition said.

The capture brings the total number of most wanted Iraqi figures in custody to 42 out of the 55 on the list, according to U.S. Central Command. Two on the list are dead and two others are suspected to be dead, the Pentagon said.

Meanwhile, the U.S.-led coalition's top civilian administrator said Sunday that Iraqi security forces will not be ready to take over their nation's security when it plans to hand sovereignty back to the Iraqi people on June 30.

Administrator L. Paul Bremer said that, while the coalition has every intention of completing that power transfer, the United States is "not going to walk away."

"Iraq is going to have a serious security threat ... for some time to come, which means that even after there is a sovereign Iraqi government at the end of June, they're going to need help from outside until such time as their security forces can handle it themselves," Bremer said.

"It is quite clear the Iraqi security forces, brave as they are and beaten and attacked as they are, are not going to be ready by July 1," he said. "There will have to be an international presence here after the sovereign government comes into power the first of July."

Bremer pointed to attacks such as Saturday's well-coordinated strike against a Fallujah police station and civil defense compound that killed more than 20 Iraqis and freed as many as 100 prisoners as an example of the kinds of security threats.

"The kind of attack which we apparently saw yesterday is attacks by people related to the former regime -- who may be linking to foreign fighters, we're not sure yet," he said. "Those attacks are the ones that have been directed mostly against the coalition -- though the one yesterday was against the police." (Full story)

The attacks, Bremer said, which have "killed the most Iraqis over the last three or four months" are "a concerted effort by al Qaeda-related terrorists." He cited a document the coalition released last week, purportedly written in Iraq by al Qaeda operative Abu Musab al Zarqawi, as a "key insight into that strategy."

"[Al Zarqawi] wants to kill Iraqi security forces because he believes they can protect Iraqis," Bremer said. "And he wants to set off a sectarian war." (Full story)

Coalition civilian administrator L. Paul Bremer
Coalition civilian administrator L. Paul Bremer

Bremer said there was a "general agreement" that there was not enough time to hold Iraqi elections by June 30.

The Bush administration has proposed a caucus system to choose a new Iraqi government. But prominent Shiite cleric Ayatollah Ali Sistani favors direct elections.

Bremer said a definitive answer would have to wait for the report of United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who headed a team in Iraq to assess the electoral situation last week.

"It is a complicated process," Bremer said. "Caucuses are a complicated process. Brahimi said it was a complicated problem, and he didn't offer a solution. Let's wait and see what his report says."

Bremer pledged that the United States and its coalition partners would not leave Iraq to fend for itself after June 30.

"We're not going to walk away," he said. "We will be here with probably the largest American embassy in the world, the largest aid mission by a factor of 10, a coalition of troops."

He also dismissed the idea that the Iraqi Survey Group's inability to find weapons of mass destruction lessened the need for the war.

"I think we have to continue to tell the American people that in fact we are involved in a noble cause here," he said. "We have freed 25 million people from one of the most vicious tyrannies of the 20th century."

And as for the missing WMD, Bremer said that the ISG's work is not done.

"The search will go on, and we'll see what they will find," he said.

Other developments

• A U.S. military patrol was attacked Sunday west of Baghdad and no injuries were reported, coalition officials said. A civilian vehicle was damaged in the attack, and one of the attackers' vehicles was set ablaze during the skirmish, a coalition spokesman said.

• More than two months after Saddam Hussein's capture, the U.S.-led coalition still has not allowed the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit him. ICRC spokesman Florian Westphal said Saturday the agency hopes to set a date for a visit soon. When asked why the visit is taking so long to arrange, Westphal said, "I'm not sure we're the right people to answer that question." (Full story)

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