DOHA, Qatar – Saddam Hussein's former finance minister, Hikmat Mizban Ibrahim al-Azzawi, was arrested by Iraqi police and turned over to U.S. Marines, U.S. Central Command said Saturday.
Al-Azzawi, who also served as a deputy prime minister, was apprehended Friday in Baghdad, Central Command said in a written statement. He was named deputy prime minister in July 1999, and Arab diplomats said at the time the move signaled an attempt by Saddam to revive the nation's economy.
He was the eight of diamonds in U.S. Central Command's deck of 52 playing cards issued as a list of most-wanted Iraqi regime members. Saddam Hussein was the ace of spades. An additional three individuals were added to the list of the wanted, though new cards were not created to represent them. Al-Azzawi's eight-of-diamonds ranking placed him 45th among the top 55 most-wanted.
A Central Command spokesman, Marine Capt. Stewart Upton, said the arrest showed the screening process put in place by U.S. military for hiring Iraqi police and getting them back on the streets was working well.
"The new police being hired are working for the people of Iraq. They are going after regime leaders," he said.
The former minister is the fifth top-ranking regime figure to be taken into custody.
Saddam's lead science adviser, Lt. Gen. Amer al-Saadi, turned himself in April 12.
On Sunday, U.S. forces nabbed Saddam's half brother and personal adviser, Watban Ibrahim Hasan. Another half brother, Barzan Ibrahim Hasan, was arrested by U.S. Special Forces on Thursday.
Samir Abd al-Aziz al-Najim, the Baath Party Regional Command Chairman for east Baghdad, was handed over by Kurds near the northern city of Mosul overnight, Brooks said Friday.
Al-Azzawi, 70, was arrested in 1960 for anti-government activities during the rule of Iraqi leader Abdel-Karim Qassem. In 1968 became member of the regional command of the Baath Party.
After the Baath Party coup in 1968 al-Azzawi was named undersecretary of the Commerce Ministry and subsequently became commerce minister.
In the mid-1970s he was appointed governor of the Iraqi Central Bank, but Saddam fired him in 1977 because he refused to transfer a large amount of money abroad for Saddam's uncle.
He regained the finance minister's portfolio in 1995 after years of writing articles in praise of Saddam.
Also Saturday, Central Command said that it had detained Khala Khader al-Salahat, a member of the Abu Nidal terrorist organization. He surrendered to the 1st Marine Division in Baghdad on Friday, the command said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.