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Iraqi National Congress Explains Role in Surrender of Ex-Officials - 2003-04-21

At least seven Iraqis on the U.S. list of 55 most-wanted members of Saddam Hussein's government and inner power circle have been apprehended or have surrendered. Some of those who surrendered are using the opposition Iraqi National Congress, or INC, as an intermediary to the U.S. military.

INC spokesman Zaab Sethna says his group handed out more than 30 small Thuraya satellite phones to their network of supporters inside Iraq before the war and another 80 during the war.

The men working inside Iraq used the phones to stay in contact with their sources within Saddam Hussein's circle of power.

"We had sent them a phone before the war and then had not been in touch during the war, but reestablished contact," explained Mr. Sethna on how the the network operated for the surrender this weekend of Saddam Hussein's son-in-law, Jamal Mustafa Abdullah Sultan. "They were in Syria, and we made the case to him and some of the people around him that it was better to come to Iraqis who would take them to Americans who would ensure a fair process and ensure that all their rights were guaranteed, and this was a better option than spending a lifetime on the run."

Mr. Sethna says the Iraqi National Congress used the same network process for Khalil Ibrahim al-Nasseri, a senior intelligence officer under Saddam, who also has surrendered to the INC for transfer to the American forces.

Mr. Sethna says more will follow. "We have a number of people that we are in touch with or that we know the locations of," he said. "I can not talk about personalities right now because we have a number of operations under way, either to apprehend them or to convince them to surrender."

The Iraqi National Congress spokesman says they have leads on more than a dozen other names on the U.S. government's list of the 55 most-wanted members of Saddam Hussein's inner circle.

Among those the U.S. military has taken into custody are two of Saddam's half-brothers and the former finance minister.