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
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
Arts and Entertainment
Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
Sport
footballMan City manager would have loved to have signed Argentine
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site on Friday

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
News
i100
Sport
Enner Valencia
footballStriker has enjoyed a rapid rise to fame via winning the title with ‘The Blue Ballet’ in Ecuador
Arts and Entertainment
A top literary agent has compared online giant Amazon to Isis
arts + entsAndrew Wylie has pulled no punches in criticism of Amazon
Arts and Entertainment
Charlie Sheen said he would
tv

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Mobile Developer (.NET / C# / Jason / Jquery / SOA)

£40000 - £65000 per annum + bonus + benefits + OT: Ampersand Consulting LLP: M...

Humanities Teacher - Greater Manchester

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...

Design Technology Teacher

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...

Foundation Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...

Day In a Page

Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities