Iraqi police on Wednesday arrested Saddam Hussein's nephew in Baghdad who was also the top financier of Iraq's rampant insurgency after Syria sent him back to Iraq, senior Iraqi security officials said.
Yasir Sabhawi Ibrahim, son of Saddam's half brother Sabhawi Ibrahim al-Hassan al-Tikriti, was arrested in a Baghdad apartment by Iraqi police after Syrian authorities forced him to return to Iraq several days earlier, the officials told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity as they were unauthorized to speak to the media.
The other official, who is a senior member of the Iraqi Defense Ministry, said: "This is one the most serious blows to the terrorists networks." Both officials, who were reached in Baghdad by telephone by the AP in Cairo, said Syrian authorities "pushed" Ibrahim into Iraq but did not hand him over to authorities.
But the Syrians were aware of his whereabouts in Baghdad and informed U.S. authorities, who then passed the information to Iraq security forces who carried out a "fast, easy" raid on Ibrahim's apartment, the Defense Ministry official said.
On July 21, the U.S. Treasury froze property or other assets in the United States of Ibrahim and five other sons of al-Tikriti, who was himself captured in Syria earlier this year and handed over to Iraq in an apparent goodwill gesture.
Al-Tikriti, who was also a former adviser suspected of financing insurgents after U.S. troops ousted the former dictator, was captured in Hasakah in northeastern Syria near the Iraqi border, Iraqi officials told the AP at the time.
On Sept. 19, Iraq's Central Criminal Court sentenced another of al-Tikriti's sons, Ayman, to life in prison on charges he helped fund the insurgency and was a bomb-maker. The court said he would face a second trial on Nov. 1 for undisclosed crimes to which he allegedly confessed during the first trial that just ended. It was the first known trial of any of the former leader's family.
Syria has been under intense pressure from the United States and Iraq to do more to prevent militants and weapons crossing from its territories into neighboring Iraq. Damascus denies actively supporting insurgents battling U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq, but says it is virtually impossible to lock down its porous desert frontier with Iraq, the AP reported.
The Ilyushin 20 (Il-20) military electronic reconnaissance aircraft of the Russian Air Force with 14 servicemen on board that went off radar screens off the coast of Syria was shot down by Syrian air defense systems over the Mediterranean Sea