"Baghdad Bob" has been bagged, according to published reports.
Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, the Iraqi "disinformation minister" who became world renowned for his ridiculously inaccurate news briefings in Iraq soon before coalition troops reached Baghdad, was captured at a Baghdad roadblock, London's Daily Mirror reported Wednesday.
The Washington Times also reported that the Iraqi official, also known as "Comical Ali," was detained early Monday evening near the home of a relative.
But U.S. Central Command has not yet confirmed that Al-Sahaf is -- or is not -- in custody. A public affairs officer noted that Al-Sahaf is not on the U.S. military's most-wanted list and was "never being pursued."
Fox News on Wednesday asked Lt. Gen. John Abizaid about this report and he said he had not heard about it. Abizaid has been picked to replace Gen. Tommy Franks as Central Command chief.
Al-Sahaf, an official obviously fiercely loyal to Saddam Hussein, once claimed "there is no presence of the American columns in the city of Baghdad" as U.S. forces were moving in.
There were Iranian news reports soon after the war began that Al-Sahaf was dead, but other media said he was alive and holed up in his house, using his sons as bodyguards.
The Times reported that a coalition force who confirmed the arrest said Al-Sahaf "has some serious talking to do this time."
As Al-Sahaf drove his Toyota Land Cruiser toward his favorite aunt's house Monday, American Humvees blocked his path and said, "the coalition wants you," the Times reported. Witnesses said he was accompanied into the house, where he collected a book, toothbrush and razor before being taken away in a white Land Cruiser.
Baghdad Bob is not one of the coalition's deck of cards representing Iraq's most wanted regime members, but he may be on a secret list of about 120 former regime members wanted by the coalition.
The Times reported that coalition forces have known Al-Sahaf's whereabouts for some time and have detained him at least once before, although for only a few hours.
Before becoming the information minister, Al-Sahaf held the position of foreign minister.
The same day American tanks rolled into the heard of Baghdad, Al-Sahaf held a news conference on the roof of the Palestine Hotel and said the American invaders had tried to penetrate the city but were slaughtered. He declared: "Be assured Baghdad is safe, secure and great."
"There is no presence of the American columns in the city of Baghdad, none at all," he said.
Al-Sahaf fans can even buy a "Dis-Information Minister" doll that says things like, "There are no American infidels in Baghdad. Never!" and "No, I am not scared and neither should you be."
Al-Sahaf's persona even spurred some to start their own Web sites on him, including www.welovetheiraqiinformationminister.com, which tracks the movements and news of Baghdad Bob and all of the top outlandish phrases used by the official.
- "God will roast their stomachs in hell at the hands of Iraqis."
- "They're coming to surrender or be burned in their tanks."
- "I can say, and I am responsible for what I am saying, that they have started to commit suicide under the walls of Baghdad. We will encourage them to commit more suicides quickly."
- Of U.S. troops: "They are most welcome. We will butcher them."
- "We have placed them in a quagmire from which they can never emerge except dead"
- "They're not even [within] 100 miles [of Baghdad]. They are not in any place. They hold no place in Iraq. This is an illusion ... they are trying to sell to the others an illusion."
Fox News' Liza Porteus contributed to this report.