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U.S. offers $10 million reward for former Saddam official

BAGHDAD, Iraq—The U.S. military on Wednesday issued a $10 million bounty for information leading to the capture or death of Izzat Ibrahim al Duri, the No. 6 man on the coalition's most-wanted list, who's suspected of masterminding recent attacks on U.S. soldiers.

The reward suggests that the military believes it's begun to crack the command structure of an insurgency that has launched about 35 attacks a day on U.S. troops in Iraq. Military leaders have said repeatedly that poor intelligence has crippled their ability to fight the guerrillas.

Al Duri, 61, is the highest-ranking member of Saddam Hussein's regime who's still at large, besides the former Iraqi leader himself.

A U.S. military spokesman said al Duri, the ace of clubs in the coalition's deck of most-wanted cards, directed attacks on U.S. soldiers in Baghdad and the so-called Sunni Triangle west and north of the capital.

Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmell said the coalition doesn't know if al Duri is acting at the direction of Saddam. Kimmell also couldn't provide any information on the command structure allegedly used by al Duri to direct Fedayeen fighters and foreign militants.

"We believe he is the mastermind, but we haven't put all the pieces together," he said.

Meanwhile, coalition forces continued to pound targets with heavy weapons through central Iraq as part of a new crackdown, rounding up dozens of suspected Fedayeen fighters and destroying buildings allegedly used by guerrillas.

Included in the attacks was the destruction of two buildings near Tikrit that are owned by al Duri _an unfinished home he supposedly ordered built and a structure the military said was used as an observation post.

On Monday, the 4th Infantry Division struck al Duri's abandoned former home in Tikrit with a satellite-guided missile fired from Baghdad 112 miles away. Soldiers finished leveling the structure with Paladin laser-guided howitzers.

A pair of 2,000-pound satellite-guided bombs was dropped late Tuesday near Baqouba, 30 miles northeast of Baghdad, on an area suspected of being a center for the manufacture of homemade bombs.

Four buildings were destroyed late Tuesday in Baghdad by C-130 gunships as part of the 1st Armored Division's "Operation Iron Hammer." The division is nicknamed "Old Ironsides."

Soldiers of the 4th Armored Division leveled six targets in and around Tikrit in the ongoing "Operation Ivy Cyclone II."

In east-central Iraq, soldiers of the 82nd Airborne conducted six raids around Ramadi and Fallujah. One netted four suspected Fedayeen fighters, two grenades, a shotgun, shells packed with C-4 explosives and a computer that was printing counterfeit Iraqi money. The haul was an example of what soldiers find in daily raids, the military said.

Al Duri was Saddam's right-hand man, one of the key plotters of the coup that brought the Baath Party to power in 1968. Before the regime's fall he served as vice chairman of the powerful Revolutionary Command Council and was deputy commander of the military.

Al Duri was born in Tikrit, Saddam's hometown. His daughter was briefly married to Saddam's son Uday until she filed for divorce, claiming she was abused.

The reward is the third highest offered for a member of the former regime. The military has set Saddam's bounty at $25 million. It offered $15 million each for Saddam's sons, Odai and Qusai, who were killed.

Kimmell said if al Duri is found, the amount paid would depend on the "quality of the information." But coalition spokesman Dan Senor noted that the full $30 million was paid within three days to the informant who directed the military to Odai and Qusai's Mosul hideout.


(c) 2003, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.