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Iraq's 'Chemical Ali' Might Still Be Alive

June 06, 2003|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Thursday that interrogations of Iraqi prisoners indicated that Ali Hassan Majid, the official known as "Chemical Ali," might still be alive.

Myers and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld had said April 7 that they believed an airstrike on a house in southern Iraq had killed Majid.

They showed reporters video of laser-guided bombs obliterating the house where a tipster told coalition forces Majid was staying.

"We believe that the reign of terror of Chemical Ali has come to an end. To Iraqis who have suffered at his hand, particularly in the last few weeks in that southern part of the country, he will never again terrorize you or your families," Rumsfeld said at the time.

An officer with the British military in Basra, Maj. Andrew Jackson, also said on that day that a body believed to be Majid's was found in the rubble.

Myers and Rumsfeld, speaking to reporters after briefing members of Congress, did not elaborate Thursday on what they called "speculation" that Majid may have survived.

Majid, a cousin of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, once ran Iraq's armed forces. His opponents called him "Chemical Ali" for his role in 1988 chemical weapons attacks that killed thousands of Kurds in northern Iraq.

He has also been linked to the bloody crackdown on Shiites in southern Iraq after their uprising following the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

He was governor of Kuwait during Iraq's seven-month occupation of its neighbor in 1990-1991.

Majid was a warrant officer and motorcycle messenger in the army before Hussein's Baath Party led a coup in 1968.

He was promoted to general and served as defense minister from 1991 to 1995, as well as a regional party leader.

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