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Iraqi Government Releases Most-Wanted List

LYNN NEARY, host:

In Baghdad, Iraq's national security advisor has released a list of the countries most wanted. It includes Saddam Hussein's first wife and his eldest daughter. The list was issued one day after the bloodiest bombing in Iraq in months killed more than 60 people. NPR's Jamie Tarabay is in Baghdad and joins us now.

Jamie, why was these two women included on this list?

JAMIE TARABAY reporting:

Well, according to national security advisor Mouaffak al-Rubaie, both Saddam's first wife Sajida and his eldest daughter, Raghad, are believed to be helping to fund the insurgent groups here in Iraq who are largely made up of former Baath members who used to dominate the country when Saddam was in charge.

Raghad is also taking a leading role in organizing her father's legal defense. Saddam is on trial for crimes against humanity in one case and he's got another case coming up in August. It's not really clear where Sajida is at the moment. We know that when the war was getting underway in March 2003 that she was believed to have been on her way Syria.

And now apparently she's in Qatar. But Raghad is in Jordan and has been in Jordan the whole time under the patronage or the protection Hashemite royal family. The Jordanian Prime Minister put out a statement yesterday saying that Raghad was here under humanitarian reasons and she hasn't been engaging in any kind of political activities.

He also said that Jordan itself hasn't received any kind of instructions or requests from the Iraqi government to hand her over.

NEARY: Now, also on this list is the man who is named to take over from terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed in a U.S. air strike last month. There is some news on Zarqawi's burial. What can you tell us about that?

TARABAY: Yes. In the same press conference, National Security Advisor Mouaffak al-Rubaie said that Zarqawi was buried along with Sheikh Abdul Rahman's men, who is believed to have been his spiritual advisor. Rubaie said that he was buried in a secret but marked location in Baghdad and won't give any more details than that.

The U.S. military says that he was buried according to Muslim customs and traditions. Now, this man, al-Masri, who has been named the successor, there is a $50,000 price on his head from the Iraqi government and a $5 million dollar one from the U.S. government.

Osama bin Laden put out a statement over the weekend and endorsed the choice of al-Masri as the new leader of al-Qaida, and he also echoed requests or demands, if you like, from Zarqawi's family in Jordan to have his body returned to his family so that they could bury it in his village in Jordan.

NEARY: There was a deadly bombing in Baghdad's Sadar City over the weekend. Also, a female politician along with her bodyguards was kidnapped. What's the latest there?

TARABAY: This parked car blew up next to an Iraqi police patrol in Sadr City. It was a marketplace. People were shopping. And at least 66 people were killed. There was also the situation with Tayseer al-Mashhadani. She's a female politician. She belongs to one of the major Sunni factions in Parliament.

And she was stopped along with eight of her bodyguards and kidnapped not long after they passed through a Shiite checkpoint. Yesterday in Parliament there was a very brief session because the Sunni politicians walked out. They were demanding that the government take care of this. They blame the security forces for her kidnapping.

And this is just another incident where the Sunni politicians in government have blamed the Interior Ministry, which is dominated by Shiites, for allowing sectarian militias to operate very freely as police force and to target Sunnis.

NEARY: All right. Thank so much for talking with us, Jamie. NPR's Jamie Tarabay in Baghdad. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jamie Tarabay
After reporting from Iraq for two years as NPR's Baghdad Bureau Chief, Jamie Tarabay is now embarking on a two year project reporting on America's Muslims. The coverage will take in the country's approx 6 million Muslims, of different ethnic, socio-economic and cultural backgrounds, and the issues facing their daily lives as Americans.