BAGHDAD, Iraq – U.S. forces are holding the commander of an Iraqi militia force that supposedly included millions of volunteer fighters, a military statement said Thursday.
Ayad Futayyih Khalifa al-Rawi (search) was No. 30 on the U.S. list of the 55 most-wanted former Iraqi officials, according to a brief statement released by the U.S. Central Command (search). It did not say when he was captured.
He was chief-of-staff of the al-Quds (search) Army, which was set up three years ago by Saddam Hussein to act as a backup to the regular army.
Iraqi authorities claimed the force consisted of seven million members, mostly civilians who received some basic military training. The real numbers were believed to have been much smaller and it played almost no role during the last war.
Al-Rawi was a former Republican Guard commander who was awarded 27 medals and prized "Qadassiyah Sword" for exploits during 1980-88 war with Iran. He was severely wounded in the head in 1988 leading his troops in a counterattack against Iranian forces.