The United States has left out the commander of President
Saddam Hussein's elite Republican Guard from a list of most wanted Iraqis.
Gen. Maher Sufian does not appear on the U.S. list of 55 most wanted
Iraqis. Sufian was commander of the six Republican Guard units
responsible for the defense of Baghdad.
The absence of Sufian from the U.S. list has sparked claims that the
Republican Guard commander struck a deal with the U.S.-led coalition. Arab
diplomatic sources said Sufian is believed to have ordered his units to lay
down their weapons and return home. In exchange, Sufian was flown from the
Al Rashid camp east of Baghdad by a U.S. AH-64A Apache helicopter to a
unknown safe house.
U.S. officials have denied any deal with Sufian, Middle East Newsline reported. But they acknowledge
that the Pentagon held secret negotiations with certain senior Iraqi
military commanders for surrender.
Three prominent Iraqi ministers also do not appear on the list of 55.
They are Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Sahaf, Health Minister Umid
Mubarak and Foreign Minister Naji Sabri. U.S. officials said the three
ministers were not regarded as key members of the Saddam regime.
"I'm not aware of any deals that have been struck with any commanders
for transport on helicopters or anything close to that, so I don't have any
report that's like that," Brig Gen. Vincent Brooks, deputy chief of
operations at Central Command, said. "When we do deal with leaders that are
out there, either local leaders, tribal leaders, religious leaders, or in
some cases military leaders, former military leaders, it's a discussion that
talks about how to end hostilities and how to begin the future of Iraq."
The Pentagon has offered cash rewards of up to $200,000 for information
on the whereabouts of Saddam and other members on the list of 55. The
highest reward can be authorized only by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
U.S. Central Command chief Gen. Tommy Franks can authorize rewards of up to
On Wednesday, U.S. officials reported the capture of three leading aides
of Saddam. The most senior aide was identified as Muzahim Sa'b Hassan Al
Tikriti, head of the Iraqi air defense command and No. 10 on the list.
Saddam's head of military intelligence, Gen. Zuhayr Talib Abd Sattar Naqib,
No. 21 on the list, was also arrested.
Former Iraqi Trade Minister Mohammed Salih, No. 48 on the list, was also
captured. In all, the United States is holding 11 out of the 55 most-wanted
A captured Iraqi who is not on the most-wanted list is Salim Jumaylia,
identified as a former head of the Iraqi intelligence unit that supervised
operations in the United States. Officials said Jumaylia could name spies
sent by Saddam to the United States.
"There is a rewards program that's out there for information that would
lead to the capturing or even clarifying the condition of those leaders and
others," Brooks said. "People that have knowledge of the weapons of mass
destruction program may be rewarded if they provide information about that
Coalition officials said Saddam is now believed to be alive and hiding
somewhere in Iraq. The assessment was voiced by British Defense Secretary
Geoff Hoon during a tour of southern Iraq on Wednesday.
"In the end we don't know, but it is still our best judgment that he is
[in Iraq]," Hoon said. "As each day goes by, as we continue to search those
places he may be hiding, we have to keep an open mind, but it is still my