Saddam Hussein’s Half-Brother Captured

Saddam Hussein’s Half-Brother Captured (NYT rss)

The Iraqi government said today that it had imprisoned a half-brother of Saddam Hussein, a suspected major financier of the insurgency and for several years the head of the country’s domestic intelligence and security service, once the most feared agency in Iraq. The half-brother, Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan al-Tikriti, is No. 36 on the list of 55 most-wanted Iraqis that the American government compiled after the fall of Baghdad in April 2003. He is believed by Iraqi officials and American commanders to have funneled large amounts of money from Syria, where he sought refuge after invasion, to guerrilla cells here in Iraq. He was apparently captured in Syria with the help of the Syrian government over the weekend.

A senior American commander confirmed that Mr. Tikriti was a “big catch,” and American officials have said that a crackdown on financiers in Syria could deal a devastating blow to the insurgency. On the deck of playing cards portraying the 55 most wanted men, Mr. Tikriti appears as the six of diamonds, and a black-and-white portrait on the card shows him as a young, smiling man with a thin moustache. Two other half brothers of Mr. Hussein on the list, Barzan al-Tikriti and Watban al-Tikriti, were seized right after the Hussein government crumbled.

CNN buries the news in the Hilla bombing report:

Also Sunday, Iraqi government officials said Saddam Hussein’s half-brother and his former personal adviser has been captured. Sab’awi Ibrahim al-Hasan al-Tikriti was No. 36 on the U.S. military’s 55 most-wanted Iraqis list, and one of only 12 people on the list who remained free. There is evidence that al-Hasan was financing insurgents in the post-Saddam era, an Iraqi intelligence official told CNN.

The capture of 43 of the 55 people on the most wanted list is also encouraging, especially since virtually everyone in the upper echelon of that group is among the 43.

Update (0937): Austin Bay had this story yesterday afternoon, citing an AP report that the Syrians turned Tikriti over to the Iraqi government. Interesting indeed.

Evan Kohlmann has a roundup of video statements by al Qaeda in Iraq for recent attacks–so far not including this one.

Andrew Olmsted has the weekly WoC Iraq Report.

Arthur Chrenkoff has his weekly Good News roundup. It’s incredibly extensive.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. DC Loser says:

    Okay, this thread got moved from the item below, so I’ll move my comment here:

    I doubt very much the terrorists will stop once all 55 are captured. Most agree that the insurgency is not led by those people and the organization is quite decentralized. Wasn’t there a lot of talk that the insurgency would collapse after Saddam was captured?

    I think we should just forget this idea of the most wanted, as that list is very outdated in terms of who are the most dangerous people in Iraq. If we focus our efforts on these people we are not going after the right ones.

    Below moved from previous thread by JJ:

    Not to nitpick, but this is another in a long series of “the end is just around the corner” prognostications. I would guess that the more people the terrorists kill the better the situation really is? This would make a cynic out of most people.

    Cigarinthesand says that the fact that the Iraqis continue to line up for police jobs is proof that the government is winning. Maybe. But maybe it’s because there’s no other work to be had in Iraq to feed one’s family? Desperate people do desperate things.

    As for the most wanted list. I doubt very much the terrorists will stop once all 55 are captured. Most agree that the insurgency is not led by those people and the organization is quite decentralized. Wasn’t there a lot of talk that the insurgency would collapse after Saddam was captured?

  2. James Joyner says:

    DCL: Agreed in the larger sense, although the list is important. Most observers agree that the “insurgency” is really a collection of several groups:

    -Former regime loyalists
    -Foreign terrorists
    -Disgruntled youth hired by one of the above

    The second group is likely the most important in terms of size and funding. Getting rid of the first, though, is critical to delegitimating the insurgency. One it’s obviously about Jordanians and Saudis trying to export jihad rather than a local movement, local support will wither away and support for aggressive countermeasures will be easier to come by.

    I’m not on the ground and lots of people continue to die, so I don’t want to be cavalier about it. Still, I think there are pretty strong signs that the insurgency is losing. The elections themselves are the most obvious. The fact that the violence is almost entirely directed at Iraqis, rather than Coalition forces and its adherents, is also critical in my view. Successful guerillas always manage to keep the locals on their side. I don’t see how this can happen under present circumstances and tactics.

  3. Jack Tanner says:

    The best part of it is Syria is waking up and smelling the coffee. Funny how they were able to just turn over these 30 guys. I wonder what else their cooperation will yield?