Saddam top deputy Izzat Ibrahim has died: Report
Updated: 2005-11-13 09:39
former Baath Party members appeared to confirm an e-mail announcing the death
of Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri that circulated a day earlier. He was believed to be
at least 62.
"In the pure land of
Iraq, the soul of comrade Izzat Ibrahim returned to God on Friday at dawn," the
website statement said. It described al-Douri as the "field commander of the
heroic resistance" and was signed by the Baath party's "political media and
The statement appeared Saturday on a website believed run by Salah
al-Mukhtar, who was Saddam's ambassador to India and head of the External
Al-Douri relatives still living in Iraq refused Saturday to comment on the
announcement, but some people close to Saddam outside the country were treating
it as accurate.
U.S. officials believed al-Douri, one of Saddam's oldest and closest
associates, played a key role in organizing resistance that erupted in 2003
against the U.S.-led coalition and was instrumental in forging links between
remnants of the ousted regime and Islamic extremists.
As the insurgency spread, the United States and its allies offered a $10
million reward for information leading to al-Douri's capture.
It was unclear whether al-Douri, who had been in poor health for years, still
played a direct role in leading the insurgency. In June, the Iraqi government
said he was losing influence among the pro-Saddam wing of the rebellion.
An e-mail sent Friday to a Western news agency in the name of the "Arab
Socialist Baath Party — Iraq Command" said al-Douri died at 2:30 a.m. Friday but
gave no indication of the cause. Al-Douri had been in poor health for years.
Arab satellite television stations broadcast the report of al-Douri's death
late Friday based on the e-mail but said they had no independent confirmation.
U.S. and Iraqi officials in Iraq also said they were aware of the report but
could not verify it.
In Amman, Jordan, a member of the Jordanian branch of the Baath Party said he
read the Web statement and appeared to consider it accurate.
"Izzat Ibrahim is a warrior and a militant who graduated from the school of
the leader, Saddam Hussein, and both are graduates from the school of the
Baath," said lawyer Ziad al-Najdawi, who has ties to Saddam's family.
"He died while holding a gun and remained a leader for the resistance and
liberation forces, rejecting American terrorism and Persian rule in Iraq."
Al-Najdawi said al-Douri's death would not affect the insurgency "because
there are many men who can replace him."
Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said he could not confirm al-Douri's
death but said he considered all Saddam lieutenants to have "died when the
"The death of the body is nothing new, whether with him or other officials,"
Al-Douri, born in 1942, had been a close associate of Saddam throughout his
rule and officially was the No. 2 man in Iraq's ruling hierarchy when the Baath
regime collapsed as U.S. troops occupied Baghdad in April 2003. He was No. 6 on
the American "deck of cards" of most-wanted fugitives.
Al-Douri, who had a reputation for ruthlessness, played a key role in the
1968 coup that brought the Baath party to power and in latter years served as
vice chairman of the Revolution Command Council. His daughter briefly was
married to Saddam's son, Uday, but the marriage ended in divorce.
He was placed in command of Iraqi forces in the north just before the
U.S.-led invasion in March 2003 but escaped the U.S. dragnet after organized
resistance collapsed. He was rumored to be in Syria or elsewhere.
In April 2004, then-U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said
al-Douri had taken command of the insurgency after Saddam was captured near
Tikrit the previous December.
Several family members, including his wife, were detained in late 2003 in
hopes of pressuring him into surrendering.
Al-Douri had been rumored to be suffering from a serious illness, possibly
leukemia, before Saddam's regime fell. He sought medical treatment in Austria in
1999 but had to leave abruptly after human rights groups threatened to file
charges against him in Austrian courts.
In June, the Iraqi government said in a statement that al-Douri was sick and
losing influence among Baath party leaders but nonetheless retained his ability
to "recruit terrorists and finance terrorist attacks with money he stole from
Iraq and transferred to Syria during the rule of the tyrant Saddam."
Al-Douri had been rumored to have been arrested several times before, most
notably in September 2004, when Iraqi authorities announced his capture during a
raid near his home village near Tikrit. Later, the Iraqi Defense Ministry said
the report was false.