U.S. captures 'Dr. Germ' colleague of 'Mrs. Anthrax'

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

The United States has captured another leading scientist in the biological weapons program of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Officials said U.S.-led coalition forces have arrested Rihab Taha, an Iraqi microbiologist who has been dubbed "Dr. Germ." They said Ms. Taha was arrested over the weekend in northwestern Iraq near the Syrian border.

Educated in Britain, Ms. Taha was said to have vital information on Iraq's BW program.

Ms. Taha worked closely with Huda Ammash, known as "Mrs. Anthraax" and regarded as the head of the BW program. Ms. Ammash was captured on April 28 by the coalition.

Both Ms. Ammash and Ms. Taha escaped to Syria in early April, officials said. They were expelled by the regime of President Bashar Assad under heavy U.S. pressure.

Officials said Ms. Taha, 47, had been in contact with UN weapons inspectors to arrange for her surrender. They said the negotiations lasted several days.

United Nations weapons inspector chief Hans Blix described her and her husband, former Iraqi Oil Minister and missile chief Amr Rashid, as one of the most important subjects of interrogation for the United States.

U.S. forces have also found two Iraqi BW mobile laboratories used to conceal biological agents and equipment from UN inspectors. The latest mobile facility was captured over the weekend around the northern city of Mosul. No actual traces of BW agents have been found in either mobile unit.

The United States has also captured a senior Saddam aide. He was identified as Ibrahim Ahmad Abd Al Sattar Al Tikriti, a former military chief of staff and No. 13 on the U.S. list of 55 most wanted Iraqis.

Officials said the most prominent Iraqi fugitive is Izzet Eddin Ibrahim Al Douri. Al Douri, former vice chairman of the Iraqi Revolutionary Council, was regarded as the closest confidante of Saddam apart from his son, Qusay.

On Tuesday, the London-based A-Sharq Al Awsat reported that Al Douri was now in the Mosul area of northern Iraq. The newspaper said Al Douri has leukemia and had tried to flee to Syria.

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