Mastermind of Prison Assault Captured, U.S. and Iraqis Say

By Caryle Murphy
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, May 9, 2005

BAGHDAD, May 8 -- U.S. forces have arrested the alleged mastermind of last month's assault on Abu Ghraib prison and the organizer of recent lethal car bombings in Baghdad, the Iraqi government and U.S. military said Sunday.

Amar Adnan Muhammad Hamzah Zubaydi, detained Thursday in an early morning raid on his home, was described as an associate of Jordanian-born militant Abu Musab Zarqawi, according to separate statements issued by the Iraqi government and U.S. military officials.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military said seven American servicemen were killed in different incidents over the weekend. An eighth was killed Sunday in a remote area in northwest Iraq during fighting that also left about 75 insurgents dead, a U.S. military official told reporters.

In Baghdad, five new cabinet ministers, including three Sunni Arabs, were approved by the National Assembly and sworn in Sunday.

Zubaydi allegedly planned the coordinated April 2 assault on Abu Ghraib prison that wounded 44 American troops and 13 detainees.

He also was allegedly responsible for a series of car bombings in Baghdad April 29, the day after Iraq's new government was formally approved by the National Assembly. The bombings were part of a wave of insurgent violence across the country that day that killed at least 50 people, including three American soldiers.

According to a former officer in Saddam Hussein's army and a journalist with sources in the insurgency, Zubaydi is related to Muhammad Hamza Zubaydi, a top Hussein official who was on the Pentagon's most wanted list until his arrest in April 2003.

The former officer described Hussein aide as Zubaydi's uncle. He said the younger Zubaydi was a Baath Party official in charge of security in central Iraq and had helped put down an uprising by Shiite Muslims in southern Iraq in 1991. After the U.S. invasion, Zubaydi went to Syria, the officer said. When he returned to take part in the insurgency, he posed as a religiously motivated fighter, he added.

The U.S. military did not immediately respond to a question about the relationship, if any, between the two Zubaydis.

The U.S. military statement also accused Zubaydi of planning the assassination of "a prominent Iraqi government official." It added that he admitted providing explosives to the man responsible for more than 75 percent of all car bombings in Baghdad before his capture in mid-January.

Assisted by Cobra attack helicopters, Marines on Sunday battled insurgents in Ubaydi, in northwestern Iraq, and other nearby areas. The Marines came under mortar and small-arms fire, according to a reporter accompanying the units.

Col. Stephen Davis, commander of Marine Regimental Combat Team-2, which is responsible for western Anbar province, said one Marine was killed and at least seven were wounded in the fighting that also left about 75 insurgents dead.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2005 The Washington Post Company