Published January 13, 2015
Iraqi police arrested the brother of one of Saddam Hussein's (search) top bodyguards and handed him over to U.S. forces, who wanted the man for allegedly organizing guerrilla attacks against American soldiers, the military reported Wednesday.
Lt. Col. Steve Russell (search), of the 4th Infantry Division (search), said he could not identify the man -- grabbed by Iraqi police on Sunday -- but said he was the brother of Adnan Abdullah Abid al-Musslit the top-level Saddam bodyguard who was captured July 29 in Tikrit (search).
Al-Musslit, who as "one of Saddam's lifelong bodyguards," was believed to have detailed knowledge of the former president's hiding places, Russell said at the time. He said documents taken from the home and information obtained from the men would be useful in the hunt for Saddam.
The military also reported foiling a rocket-propelled grenade attack on American forces in the center of Tikrit when soldiers spotted a man armed with a launcher as he prepared to fire from an alley.
"He was sneaking through an alleyway and we engaged him," Russell said. "Soldiers saw him fall but when we got down to the area where they engaged him, we were unable to find the body. But there's no doubt that we hit him."
"We will engage or kill anyone with RPGs," Russell said. RPGs are rocket-propelled grenades.
Also Wednesday, the U.S. military reported a soldier died in Mosul (search), 240 miles north of Baghdad after falling off a building he was guarding. The military released no other details, but said there was no indication of foul play.
American soldiers in Tikrit, meanwhile, planned to begin training recruits for Iraq's civil defense force in the coming week, Russell told reporters.
The armed militia will receive basic military training to protect key infrastructure, such as bridges and market places from attacks and sabotage by insurgents and will serve as a quick reaction force to fight rebels who attack U.S. forces or civilian targets, Russell said.
"They will help protect infrastructure, they will do non-policing tasks so that if there are attacks on government buildings they will be able to respond," Russell said.
Thirty-five men will be trained initially and will hopefully serve as the core for the new Iraqi defense force. After completing their training -- which is expected to last a few weeks -- the force will be armed with AK-47s and outfitted in the same "chocolate chip" desert camouflage uniforms that U.S. troops wore during the first Gulf War, Russell said.
Gen. John Abizaid, head of the U.S. Central Command, announced the establishment of the militia on July 22 saying there were plans for eight battalions of armed Iraqi militiamen, each with about 850 men. Russell said similar training programs were expected to begin in other parts of Iraq shortly.
The initial recruits were nominated by tribal leaders in the Tikrit area, Russell said.
On Tuesday, an American civilian delivering mail to U.S. forces in the Tikrit region was killed when his truck was blown apart by a remotely detonated land mine north of the city, the military and his employer said.
He was on a daily run from Baghdad International Airport to the Tikrit region to the north, when the mine exploded, said Wendy Hall, a spokeswoman for his employer, Kellogg Brown & Root.
Two fellow workers in the convoy were not hurt, she said. Kellogg Brown & Root had been doing work at the Baiji oil refinery and pipeline terminus about 30 miles north of Tikrit.
U.S. military sources, meanwhile, reported a failed raid last week in the Mosul region in the far north to capture one of Saddam Hussein's most trusted aides and No. 6 on the U.S. list of most-wanted, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri.
Al-Douri's daughter was married to Saddam's son Uday, who was killed with his brother Qusay in a U.S.-led attack last month on their Mosul hideout.
In Cairo, the Arab League voted against recognizing the U.S.-picked Iraqi Governing Council as legitimate representative of the Iraqi people, saying it would wait for Iraqis to elect a government.
"The Council is a start but it should pave the way for a legitimate government that can be recognized," Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said Tuesday after a meeting to forge a unified stance on how to deal with post-Saddam Iraq.
The decision means Iraq's seat at the 22-member league will remain vacant until a new government is elected.
A spokesman for a Governing Council member said the decision could slow Iraq's return to sovereignty.
"The support of the Arab League is badly needed to accelerate our return to independence," said Ayad al-Sammarai, spokesman for Mohsen Abdel-Hamid, leader of the Iraqi Islamic Party.