New lists emerge of Iraq's most wanted
By Wire services
Published December 27, 2003
BAGHDAD - Thirteen fugitives remain from the original "deck of cards" of top Saddam Hussein regime members, but U.S. forces are increasingly focusing on new lists of people thought to be taking a more active role in the anti-U.S. insurgency, military intelligence sources say.
And the insurgency continues to be deadly for U.S. troops, as two soldiers were killed Friday. The deaths bring to 10 the number of troops killed this week in what U.S. officials feared would be a Christmas offensive by insurgents determined to show their fight lives on despite the capture of Hussein two weeks ago.
To create the new lists of most-wanteds, U.S. military units and their coalition allies have developed computer databases, which they have updated with information on every bomb blast, firefight, suspect detained and tip provided by a local resident.
The deck of cards, prepared by U.S. intelligence before the March invasion, contains images of the 55 figures the U.S. military was particularly interested in capturing, beginning with Hussein as the ace of spades.
The U.S. troops who entered Iraq also carried a so-called black list of hundreds of second-tier leaders targeted for arrest and an even larger gray list of "persons of interest" - Iraqis wanted for questioning.
Those lists are not updated and have grown less relevant to the insurgency, an unidentified senior U.S. military official told the Associated Press, although some Iraqis on the original lists are still desired.
In Tikrit, Hussein's hometown north of Baghdad, the Army's 4th Infantry Division has found its own informants and databases more useful than the CIA's lists of former regime loyalists, said the division's Lt. Col. Steven Russell.
"If you're asking whether our operations are being driven top-down, my view, and it's a narrow view from Tikrit, is that our information has been driven bottom-up in cooperation with special operations forces locally," Russell said.
The old CIA lists "were the starting point" for rounding up the top officials in Hussein's Baath Party, especially those believed to have committed or ordered atrocities or who had knowledge of unconventional weapons, said Lt. Col. Ken Devan, the top intelligence officer of the Army's 1st Armored Division, which controls Baghdad.
Since many of those fugitives have been captured, their interrogations have provided fodder for further fugitive lists and arrests, Devan said.
"It's kind of like pulling on a string. You just keep on pulling and you don't really know what's on the other end," Devan said.
The Army's 82nd Airborne Division, which occupies the restive Sunni Muslim areas west of Baghdad, has its own database of insurgent suspects who lead 15 guerrilla cells operating in the Anbar province, which contains the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi.
Those on the top 55 list who are at large include Izzat Ibrahim, his son Ahmed and Hani Abd al-Latif Tilfah, all of whom are thought to be involved in the guerrilla war against the U.S.-led occupation, U.S. officials said.
The elder Ibrahim - No.6 on the list - and Tilfah - No.7 - had senior roles in Hussein's security apparatus before the war.
Interrogated prisoners have suggested both Ibrahims are playing organizing roles but that the father might be sick, officials said. Some analysts dispute the contention that he is involved in the insurgency, saying he is too busy trying to elude his pursuers.
Another growing intelligence list has proven especially relevant: the Army divisions' so-called "white lists" of informers and other human intelligence sources.
"White listers" have provided tips that fill fugitive databases and the intelligence used in raids and arrests. Devan said he was reluctant to discuss the 1st Armored's white list because the "good guys" on it could be endangered.
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