BAGHDAD, April 12 (UPI) — U.S. military officials confirmed that the top science adviser to Iraq’s president had surrendered Saturday to coalition forces in Baghdad. They hope he will have information about any illegal weapons programs Iraq might have developed under Saddam Hussein’s regime.
Gen. Amir al-Saadi is among the United States’ 55 most wanted officials in Iraq. He became more prominent during recent months as Iraq’s liaison with U.N. weapons inspectors prior to the war.
Al-Saadi insisted then and again on Saturday that Iraq does not have weapons of mass destruction, His comments and surrender were recorded by German television ZDF. His wife is reportedly German and he asked a ZDF camera crew to accompany him to U.S. military command in the Iraqi capital.
“We can confirm the surrender took place,” Capt. Dani Burrows told United Press International by telephone from the Combined Forces headquarters outside Doha, Qatar. No details on where al-Saadi is being held, or whether he was yet being questioned, were available.
Terence Taylor, a former U.N. weapons inspector, told CNN Saturday that al-Saadi had little alternative but to surrender at this stage of the war.
“He will gain some form of security by doing that, I imagine,” said Taylor, and added his surrender could be the beginning of other people coming forward.
“People associated with (Iraq’s) weapons of mass destruction program, I think we want them to come in, they probably have something to offer,” Taylor asserted.
The U.S. military has produced a deck of 55 cards identifying by name and photo the “most wanted” Iraqi officials. The cards are being distributed to Army soldiers and Marines to help them spread the word among Iraqis even without speaking Arabic, Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks said Friday. The faces and names will also be published on posters and handbills.
The United States is offering financial rewards and other enticements to get information on the whereabouts of the 55 as well as information on chemical and biological weapons.
“We’ve also said that if people have spotty backgrounds, assisting us might make their futures brighter,” Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said.
He said the only way suspected “weapons of mass destruction” will be found — a primary reason for the war — is if people come forward with information, enticed with money or promises of leniency.
“Are we going to find (the weapons)? No. It’s a big country. What we’re going to do is we’re going to find the people who will tell us that, and we’re going to find ways to encourage them to tell us that,” he said.
Copyright 2003 by United Press International. All rights reserved.