Saddam information leads to new arrests

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The Independent Online

Information found on Saddam Hussein after his capture at the weekend has already led special forces to arrest at least two reportedly prominent former members of his regime.

There was no word from the American authorities on the identities of those taken into custody. However, one US military official asserted that "key" members of Saddam's circle had been netted. The new arrests were made in Baghdad.

In Washington, the US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, said that while the former Iraqi leader had been talking with American interrogators he had not given any useful information. Leads to the whereabouts of some of his former associates may have come from papers that were on him at the moment of his capture.

Brigadier General Mark Hertling of the 1st Armoured Division confirmed that documents found in a briefcase with Saddam were already helping the intelligence community in "connecting the dots". He added: "There were a lot of things that can be exploited."

Briefing reporters last night, General Hertling confirmed the new arrests. "We've already been able to capture a couple of key individuals here in Baghdad. We've completely confirmed one of the cells. It's putting the pieces together, its connecting the dots."

With the capture of Saddam, the US-led Allies have the greatest prize in their effort to hunt down all the members of the ousted regime. Nevertheless, of the 55 Iraqi figures that were originally placed on the US military's most-wanted list in Iraq, there are 13 who are still at large.

Finding those men remains a priority because of concerns that some of them may be involved in directing the insurgency attacks against US troops in Iraq. The most senior of those who have so far succeeded in evading the US manhunt is Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, a former close aide to Saddam. US officials have long suspected that he, in particular, may have direct involvement in the military resistance.

General Hertling said he was certain that Saddam had been involved himself in stirring the insurgency. "I'm sure he was giving some guidance to some key figures," he said.