Dec 2 2003
Dictator's loyal pal is leading attacks on US troops
By Keith Mcleod
RUTHLESS hardliner Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri is now the most wanted man in Iraq after Saddam Hussein himself. US intelligence sources believe Saddam's henchman orchestrated many of the attacks on Allied soldiers since the war ended, including yesterday's assaults on two US convoys in the northern city of Samarra.
Soldiers killed 46 Iraqis many of whom were wearing the black uniforms of the Fedayeen militia during the co-ordinated strikes.
Middle East expert for military magazine Jane's Defence Weekly, Hazhir Teimourian, said: ''My sources in the Kurdish regions to the north say al-Douri has tried to flee the country but has been thwarted.
''He obviously feels he has no alternative but to attack American and softer civilian targets.''
Al-Douri, 61, was Saddam's most trusted aide during 30 years of dictatorship.
He was one of the key plotters of the 1968 revolution in Iraq that brought the Baath Party to power.
He held the key role of deputy commander-in-chief of the armed forces and was also vice-chairman of the revolutionary command council.
Al-Douri was one of Iraq's most aggressive hawks during the eightyear war with neighbouring Iran, which cost hundreds of thousands of lives with no gain for either side.
Within months of that war ending in 1988, he turned his attention to Kurds in northern Iraq.
Thousands of men, women and children were killed in a chemical attack on the town of Halabja.
At the start of the 1991 Gulf war, as a chilling warning to other Kurds not to rise up against Saddam, al-Douri told them: ''If you have forgotten Halabja, we are ready to repeat the operation.''
The son of an ice seller, al-Douri was born in 1942 near Tikrit, Saddam's home city.
He joined the Baath Party and quickly moved up the ranks.
After planning the 1968 coup, he served as both agriculture and interior minister.
In the latter role, he gained a fearful reputation as the regime'senforcer. Ordinary Iraqis who were seen as any kind of threat were arrested in the middle of the night and tortured under his reign of terror.
Despite his distinctive ginger hair, unusual for an Iraqi, and suffering from leukaemia in recent years, al-Douri has proved an elusive target for his enemies, though he has had a few lucky escapes.
He narrowly survived an assassination attempt at Karbala in 1998. And, in 1999, while in Viennagetting treatment for his cancer, he was almost arrested on war crimes charges. He fled Austria just before being served with a warrant.
Al-Douri, whose daughter was married to Saddam's son Uday, was given responsibility for the Mosul military zone in the north when the war started earlier this year.
Last week, his wife and daughter were arrested by US forces.
Teimourian added: ''Everyone thought thecancerwould kill al-Douri but he seems to have recovered.
''It is difficult for him to run because, with his distinctive looks, Syria wants nothing to do with him.
''He is and always has been a thug andayes-man to Saddam. He has held high office but these were really nominal positions since all decisions were made by Saddam or his sons.
''He owes everything to his dogged loyalty to Saddam.
''Even when Uday humiliated al-Douri's daughter in a very public way in ending their marriage, he remained loyal to the regime.''
I have serious doubts they were all iraqis.