2 More Wanted Iraqis Give Up
Two Iraqis on the allied most-wanted list have surrendered, including a weapons expert and a provincial governor, the U.S. military and Iraqi opposition sources said Tuesday.
Former Oil Minister Amir Mohammed Rashid, who earned the nickname “Missile Man” because he was Saddam Hussein’s point man on weapons delivery systems, turned himself in Monday, the U.S. Central Command said.
Walid Hamed Tawfiq, former governor of Iraq’s southern Basra province and a member of Hussein’s clan, surrendered to the opposition Iraqi National Congress in Baghdad, a spokesman for the group said.
Rashid is the 14th man on the most-wanted list of 55 Iraqis to be captured and No. 47 on the list. He was the six of spades in the deck of cards issued to allied forces to help identify wanted Iraqi officials.
The Central Command in Qatar could not confirm the surrender of Tawfiq, No. 44 on the list and designated the eight of clubs.
Rashid, also a former Iraqi army general, was a member of the regime’s Military Industrialization Organization, the group responsible for producing the country’s most lethal weapons.
His wife is Rihab Taha, a microbiologist known as “Dr. Germ,” who was in charge of a secret Iraqi facility that worked on anthrax, botulinum toxin and other biological weapons in the 1980s.
She is also being sought by the United States -- though she is not on the most-wanted list -- and there was no word on her whereabouts.
Rashid’s capture could be a boon for U.S. disarmament specialists searching for chemical, biological or nuclear weapons in Iraq.
“He was a player,” said Richard Fairbanks, a Middle East expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix said this month that Rashid and Taha would be among “the most interesting persons” for the Americans to question.
Human rights organizations in 1999 called for Rashid’s arrest on war crimes charges for the gassing of Kurdish villages in the late 1980s.
The groups, including human rights organizations from the United States, Turkey, Central Asia and Europe, alleged that as head of Iraq’s military industries, Rashid worked closely with a cousin of Hussein, Ali Hassan Majid -- known as “Chemical Ali” -- who is believed to have been killed in the bombing of his home in Basra.