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WASHINGTON (AP) American forces in Iraq captured four top officials of Saddam Hussein's former government Wednesday, including the air defense force commander and the former head of military intelligence.
The highest-ranking official in the group is Muzahim Sa'b Hassan al-Tikriti, who headed Iraq's air defenses under Saddam. He was No. 10 on the U.S. list of the top 55 most wanted officials from Saddam's regime.
Gen. Zuhayr Talib Abd al-Sattar al-Naqib, the former head of the Directorate of Military Intelligence, surrendered to U.S. troops Wednesday, a senior Pentagon official said.
The directorate monitored the loyalty of Iraq's regular army, provided security at Iraqi military facilities and collected intelligence on military forces opposing Iraq. The Pentagon official said Naqib's American equivalent would be the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Naqib was No. 21 on the 55 most wanted list and was the seven of hearts in the deck of cards produced by the U.S. military with pictures of Saddam's associates.
Also captured Wednesday was Muhammad Mahdi al-Salih, the former Iraqi trade minister and No. 48 on the most wanted list.
Naqib was a professional soldier who rose through the ranks of the Iraqi army, U.S. officials said. The military intelligence directorate he headed was separate from the Iraqi Mukhabarat, which gathered strategic intelligence and conducted covert operations aimed at maintaining government authority.
Also Wednesday, allied special operations troops captured a Mukhabarat officer formerly in charge of American operations, a senior U.S. official said.
Jim Wilkinson, director of strategic communications for U.S. Central Command, identified the prisoner as Salim Said Khalaf al-Jumayli. He was not among the 55 most wanted.
Al-Jumayli is suspected of having knowledge of Iraqi intelligence activities in the United States, including names of people spying for Iraq, Wilkinson said in a statement from Doha, Qatar.
He offered no details about how the Iraqi was captured but said there was one Iraqi casualty during the operation. No Americans were hurt, he said.
The 56-year-old Naqib told The Los Angeles Times in an interview before his surrender that he had no apologies for his involvement in Saddam's government. He also made it clear that he had not always agreed with the Iraqi leader. However, he had shared Saddam's Pan-Arabist ideas and had hope that Iraq and its military could be the force for creating an Arab nation, the Times report said.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)