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17 April 2003

CENTCOM Reports Capture of Another Hussein Half-Brother

(General Franks gathers Coalition commanders in Baghdad) (1030)
By Jacquelyn S. Porth
Washington File Security Affairs Writer


Washington -- Demonstrating the coalition's commitment "to
relentlessly pursuing the scattered members of a fractured regime," a
U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) official says Saddam Hussein's
half-brother, Barzan Ibrahim Hassan al-Tikriti, is now in coalition
hands.

Brigadier General Vincent Brooks told reporters at the daily press
briefing in Qatar that Barzan was taken into custody in Baghdad on
April 17 by Special Operations Forces with Marine support. Helpful
Iraqis supplied information that aided in the capture. Barzan, who is
on the list of 55 Iraqi regime members that the coalition is seeking,
is being questioned now about information that he --- as an Iraqi
presidential adviser and Ba'ath Party member -- may possess about the
inner workings of the former regime, Brooks said.

As each day goes by and additional regime leaders are taken into
custody and information is gathered, Brooks said, details about the
location of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction could come to light
rapidly, but in the meantime coalition teams are working deliberately
to examine suspect sites.

Asked if coalition forces might pursue Saddam Hussein into a third
country such as Syria, Brooks said "Operation Iraqi Freedom" will
remain focused inside Iraq.

Providing a situational update of recent military operations, Brooks
said coalition forces continue to seek and remove foreign fighters,
aided by information from local Iraqis "who don't need them for
defense and don't seek their presence."

Brooks said members of the 4th Infantry Division found a
surface-to-surface missile warehouse and computers among other items
following a brief firefight to the north of Baghdad. The computers
will be examined for leads to other stashes of weapons and clues about
movements by senior military leaders, he said.

Brooks advised that there is evidence of individuals in Iraq "who
either desire a state of lawlessness, who are looting things that are
of value to the Iraqi people, or who are engaging in violent acts in a
number of places," stating that as long as that is occurring, "our
work is not complete." He also said that there are still conventional
weapons and munitions in many areas of the country "that need to be
removed from the hands of those that might seek to continue actions."

Brooks pointed to Mosul as a city where the security situation is
still classified as "uncertain." He said a firefight erupted on April
16 when Iraqi police -- working with coalition forces -- confronted a
group of local bank robbers. Coalition forces continue to have the
inherent right of self-defense, he said. "That hasn't changed and will
continue to be something that is a first guiding principle for our
work," he added.

"I think what that tells us," Brooks said, "is that there are still
pockets that would seek to have instability as a better solution than
stability." As a result, he said: "Our efforts have to be directed
against locating such individuals, taking away their capability, and
simply applying a system of justice that puts an end to it." Iraqi
police and coalition forces must disarm local agitators and bring them
to justice, he noted, in order to bring stable conditions to Mosul, as
has been achieved in other cities in the north.

As yet, Brooks said, coalition forces have been unable to declare
Baghdad a "permissive" environment. But the number of attacks are
decreasing daily, he said, "with the assistance of the Iraqi local
population, who give us more and more information, and also who really
create the conditions of what is permissive and what's peaceful and
stable." He also noted that Iraq "is more stable today than
yesterday."

Coalition forces fundamentally want local leaders "to develop and take
ownership of the actions that are happening inside of towns, villages
and cities throughout the country," Brooks said. Leaders are emerging,
he said, adding: "We want Iraq to be governed by Iraqis." Over time,
he said, "we want to see an integrated relationship of those regional
governments with national-level governments."

Brooks spent a long time detailing work underway in various locations
to restore electrical power. Electricity is back on in Kirkuk, he
said, which will allow a natural gas complex there to pump to an
inoperable gas facility in Mosul. Once that is back in operation, the
briefer said, there will be stable power to run the hydroelectric
station at the Mosul Dam, formerly known as the Saddam Dam. With those
connections, he said, power can be pushed toward Baghdad and beyond to
Tikrit.

In other CENTCOM developments, Command Army General Tommy Franks made
his first trip ever to the Iraqi capital on April 16. He gathered his
commanders at the Abu Ghurayb North Palace for a meeting in one of
many of Saddam Hussein's former residences. After touring its ornate
rooms, Franks described them as a product of Saddam Hussein's "the
oil-for-palace program," according to a press pool report issued by
CENTCOM on the day of his visit.

"I wanted to get our commanders together in Baghdad because that's
been, of course, the center of gravity for this regime while it stood.
And, as we all recognize, it stands no longer," Franks said.

"I think there's an expectation that our forces will be here operating
in this country for some period of time in order to provide more
stability so a new government, a government chosen by the Iraqi
people, can take its place," he remarked.

Franks, too, made reference to Arab or foreign fighters who came into
Iraq to try to prop up the regime or agitate in other ways, but said
coalition forces are now in "the business of rooting them out."

While in Baghdad, the CENTCOM commander engaged in a video conference
with President Bush, providing his current assessment of Operation
Iraqi Freedom and his vision of what will likely unfold in the coming
week to 10 days. "I actually believe," Franks said, "it'll be better
seven days from now by quite a bit than it is today."

(The Washington File is a product of the Office of International
Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:
http://usinfo.state.gov)