Inspectors hail arrest of Iraq's 'Mrs Anthrax'

American forces in Baghdad have captured Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash, a senior biological weapons scientist who was one of the most wanted members of the ousted regime of Saddam Hussein.

Ms Ammash, who was among the 55 most-wanted officials identified in a deck of cards issued to US soldiers, was taken into custody on Sunday, in what was apparently a pre-negotiated surrender. Her detention brings to 19 the number of the 55 who have been caught.

What was unclear was whether she would take Britain and America any closer to finding any of the illicit weapons whose alleged development and possession by Saddam was the primary justification for the war.

Other high-ranking Iraqis have denied under interrogation that any such programmes existed in recent years, and US officials are starting to shift ground. They now argue that even if stocks may have been destroyed, Iraq still had the know-how to restart manufacturing at short notice.

President George Bush expressed anger over the weekend that the former deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, was refusing to co-operate with US forces since his surrender.

Washington also now insists that only with the co-operation of ordinary Iraqis will the weapons, of whose existence the intelligence services sounded so certain, be discovered.

United Nations weapons inspectors welcomed the arrest of 49-year old Ms Ammash, who was shown on Iraqi television on 27 March sitting at the same table as Saddam Hussein during a leadership meeting. The date of the recording is not known, however.

"Given the fact that she was involved with the top leadership, she is somebody who is quite interesting in terms of the latest thinking in Iraq," said a UN spokesman, Hiro Ueki. "But we won't know until the coalition interrogates her whether she was involved in a clandestine weapons programme or not."

Ms Ammash's presence at the meeting with Saddam was taken as a sign that the Iraqi leader was continuing to engage in producing banned weaponry, despite official assertions that all of the country's biological and chemical weapons had been destroyed.

Ms Ammash, called "Mrs Anthrax" in the West, is held to have played a senior role in rebuilding Baghdad's biological weapons capability since the 1991 Gulf War.

Born in 1953 in Baghdad, she is the daughter of Saleh Mahdi Ammash, a former vice-president, defence minister and member of the Baath party's leadership. Saddam reportedly ordered his execution in 1983.

She was trained by Nassir al-Hindawi, in the past described by UN inspectors as the father of Iraq's biological weapons programme, and both are reputed to be among Iraq's top weapons scientists.

Others include Amir al-Saadi, Saddam Hussein's chief scientific adviser and chemical weapons expert who has surrendered to the Allies, and Dr Rihab Taha, a woman called "Dr Germ" by inspectors for her work on biological weapons. Dr Taha is married to the former Iraqi oil minister, Amir Muhammad Rashid, who has been arrested by US forces.

Ms Ammash is the only woman who features on the most-wanted list, ranking 53rd out of the 55. In 2001, she became the first and only woman to be elected to the Baath party's regional command, its highest policymaking body, after working closely with Saddam's younger son, Qusay.

Suggested Topics
Arts & Entertainment
A stranger calls: Martin Freeman in ‘Fargo’
tvReview: New 10-part series brims with characters and stories

Arts & Entertainment
Shaun Evans as Endeavour interviews a prisoner as he tries to get to the bottom of a police cover up
Review: Second series comes to close with startling tale of police corruption and child abuse
Sport
Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez celebrate during Liverpool's game with Norwich
football Another hurdle is out of the way for Brendan Rodgers' side
Arts & Entertainment
Schwarzenegger winning Mr. Universe 1969
arts + entsCan you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
VIDEO
News
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth-II by David Bailey which has been released to mark her 88th birthday
peoplePortrait released to mark monarch's 88th birthday
Arts & Entertainment
The star of the sitcom ‘Miranda’ is hugely popular with mainstream audiences
TVMiranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
Life & Style
The writer, Gerda Saunders, with her mother, who also suffered with dementia before her death
healthGerda Saunders on the most formidable effect of her dementia
Sport
Manchester United manager David Moyes looks on during his side's defeat to Everton
footballBaines and Mirallas score against United as Everton keep alive hopes of a top-four finish
Sport
Tour de France 2014Sir Rodney Walker on organising the UK stages of this year’s race
Arts & Entertainment
Jessica Brown Findlay as Mary Yellan in ‘Jamaica Inn’
TVJessica Brown Findlay on playing the spirited heroine of Jamaica Inn
News
YouTube clocks up more than a billion users a month
mediaEuropean rival Dailymotion certainly thinks so
Arts & Entertainment
The original design with Charles' face clearly visible, which is on display around the capital
arts + ents
Arts & Entertainment
‘Self-Portrait Worshipping Christ’ (c943-57) by St Dunstan
books How British artists perfected the art of the self-portrait
News
People
News
Sir Cliff Richard is to release his hundredth album at age 72
PEOPLE
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Geography Teacher

£130 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Secondary Geography Teacher Lo...

Do you want to work in Education?

£55 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Are you a dynamic and energeti...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: SEN TAs, LSAs and Support Workers needed...

Private Client Senior Manager - Sheffield

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: The Sheffield office of this...

Day In a Page

Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter: The man who could have been champion of the world - and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him

The man who could have been champion of the world

Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him
Didn’t she do well?

Didn’t she do well?

Miranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

In Iraq, mafiosi already run almost the entire oil output of the south of the country
Before they were famous

Before they were famous

Can you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is genius

Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is a stroke of genius

Series is brimming with characters and stories all its own
How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players