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Troops search for 'dead' Saddam's deputy

- Leila Fadel, Knight Ridder

( Tuesday, November 15, 2005 )

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"Al-Douri said they were acting on a tip that Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri had said that when he died he wanted to be covered in a white cloth that he wore to the holy Muslim pilgrimage, the hajj."

U.S. and Iraqi troops shut down the town of Dour near Tikrit on Monday in a search for Saddam Hussein's top deputy, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, whose death has been announced and contested on various Baath party Web sites. Al-Douri's hometown was cordoned off as troops arrested about 11 people and searched for information about the man who has a $10 million bounty on his head.

Near the Syrian border, the second phase of Operation Steel Curtain began with a dawn sweep through Ubaydi along the Euphrates River in al Qaim. The Iraqi army and U.S. Marine operation, an attempt to squeeze out al-Qaida operatives in Iraq who are filtering through the Syrian border, began Nov. 5. Al-Douri, the king of clubs in the notorious deck of most-wanted playing cards, was reported dead on an Arabic news channel Friday and later on a Baathist Web site. The report has since been disputed by family members and a second Baathist Web site.

U.S. officials think that al-Douri has funded and directed attacks on American forces. He's thought to be a key player in the tactical alliance between Baathist insurgents and al-Qaida terrorists. After sealing off the three main roads out of Dour, soldiers went house to house searching for people on a list of names they carried as helicopters hovered over their homes, residents said. By early evening they'd arrested at least 11 people, said Lt. Col. Akram al-Douri, who's no relation to Izzat Ibrahim.

Al-Douri said they were acting on a tip that Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri had said that when he died he wanted to be covered in a white cloth that he wore to the holy Muslim pilgrimage, the hajj. It was left with one of his four wives, the lieutenant colonel said. Police said the raid would lead directly to al-Douri.

In Baghdad, two South African contractors with DynCorp, a Texas-based company, were killed when a homemade bomb exploded as they traveled in an SUV near the Iranian Embassy on Monday morning. Three people were injured, including one American according to a U.S. embassy spokesman. Separate bombings killed a policeman in south Baghdad and two civilians in east Baghdad, according to the Ministry of Interior.

Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, Saddam's top deputy
Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, former Vice-Chairman Iraq's Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), Deputy Secretary General - Ba'th Party Regional Command and Deputy Commander - Iraqi Armed Forces.
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