CAMP AS SAYLIYAH, Qatar – Odai Hussein is the ace of hearts. Qusai Hussein is the ace of clubs. The ace of spades, naturally, is their father, Saddam Hussein.
The U.S. military has issued a most-wanted list in the form of a deck of cards, distributing them to thousands of U.S. troops in the field to help find senior members of the government.
The names also were being put on posters and handbills for the Iraqi public, Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks said at a briefing Friday in Qatar.
The cards were posted on the Defense Department's Web site.
Curiously absent is Saddam's minister of information, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, who boasted of battlefield successes right up to the time he disappeared Tuesday.
The fourth ace, the ace of diamonds, is the presidential secretary, Abid Hamid Mahmud al-Tikriti. And a familiar figure, Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, is the eight of spades.
Brooks said the whereabouts of some of the most-wanted figures were unknown, while others might well be dead.
"The population will probably confirm that for us," he said.
"The key list has 55 individuals who may be pursued, killed or captured, and the list does not exclude leaders who may have already been killed or captured," Brooks said.
"The intent here is to help the coalition gain information from the Iraqi people so that they also know exactly who it is we seek," he added.
The U.S. forces have twice bombed sites where they believe Saddam may have been staying, and his fate is still unknown.
Brooks also said that U.S. forces found and destroyed five small airplanes covered by camouflage along Highway 1 near the northern city of Tikrit, Saddam's birthplace.
The planes, he said, could have been used for escape or to distribute weapons of mass destruction. They were located after special forces north of Tikrit got caught up in a firefight with Iraqi troops, he said.
Brooks said there were increasing indications that regime leaders were trying to flee, including being smuggled out, flying out or driving out -- and that serious firefights have erupted in areas where such convoys may have been moving.
He noted that special operations forces had taken the surrender of an Iraqi colonel responsible for Iraqi checkpoints leading into Syria along highways 10 and 11 in far western Iraq, and that coalition troops now control the crossings.
U.S. officials have said Iraqi regime officials have fled to Syria, and Brooks hinted Friday they were going to other countries as well, although he didn't identify which ones.