The United States announces it has captured Iraq’s former Iraqi intelligence chief Farouk Hijazi. He is the latest in a series of former officials from Saddam Hussein’s regime to be taken into custody in recent days. U.S. officials say he is an important catch even though he was not on the U.S. list of the 55 most wanted Iraqis. He is accused of plotting to assassinate former U.S. President George Bush in the 1990’s. The capture came just a day after Iraq’s former deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz surrendered to U.S. forces. Amy Katz has more.
Tariq Aziz is the highest-ranking Iraqi official currently in U.S. custody. It is hoped he will give the U.S. information on the whereabouts of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Although he was not part of Saddam Hussein’s inner circle, Mr. Aziz was Saddam’s chief foreign policy advisor and was the main liaison between Baghdad and the West. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters at the Pentagon Friday, Iraqi citizens are increasingly willing to cooperate with coalition forces in finding wanted former Iraqi officials.
DONALD RUMSFELD, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
“Most are being apprehended with the help of ordinary Iraqis. I expect that, with the help of the Iraqi people, many more will be captured in the days ahead.”
Across Iraq Friday Shiite Muslims turned out for Friday prayers, something they were banned from doing during the Sunni-Muslim dominated Saddam Hussein regime.
NATURAL SOUND PEOPLE PRAYING
At a Baghdad mosque, Shiites and Sunnis prayed together Friday. A senior Sunni cleric called on all Iraqis to unite and reject the U.S. presence in their country. He told Iraqis they should say no to a U.S.-imposed government and build a Muslim society where Shiites and Sunnis can live together in peace. Bush administration officials have repeatedly said they have no interest in imposing a government on Iraq. They say their goal is a constitutional government led by Iraqis.
Meanwhile, U.S. ground troops began to leave the region. The men and women of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit were packing up and boarding ships in Kuwait for the trip home to the U.S.