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Last Updated: Friday, 22 August, 2003, 09:50 GMT 10:50 UK
Q&A: 'Chemical Ali' held
Questions and Answers
The BBC's security correspondent Frank Gardner examines the arrest of one of Saddam Hussein's top generals, Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as "Chemical Ali".

What do we know about his capture?

The Pentagon has not immediately released any details, other than to confirm it has Ali Hassan al-Majid in custody.

However, unconfirmed reports from Iraq say he was caught at a farm north of Baghdad at a place called Doura after people close to him informed the Americans.

Wasn't he declared dead by the coalition early on in the war?

Yes he was, wrongly so. On 7 April this year, coalition HQ in Doha announced that his body had been identified following an air strike on his house in Basra. When I went to that house soon afterwards local Basra residents told me they knew for certain he had escaped the attack. They were right. In June, the Pentagon admitted that he may after all be alive but it could not be certain.

Why is Ali Hassan al-Majid so notorious?

The chief reason is for his leading role in Saddam's "Anfal" campaign against Iraqi Kurds in the late 1980s.

He is alleged to have signed the order that led to the gassing to death of over 5,000 Kurds at Halabja in 1988, earning him the Arabic nickname "Ali Kimawiya" or "Chemical Ali".

He also led the suppression of the Shia uprising in the south in March 1991.

He is accused of personally supervising the torture and execution of large numbers of Iraqis.

Will his capture lead the coalition to Saddam Hussein?

Possibly, although they were hiding in different locations.

Chemical Ali may not know Saddam's current hiding place but if he chooses to talk then he could reveal a great deal about Saddam's mindset, giving clues as to where he might choose to hide.

Will he be put on trial?

The Pentagon is not saying. There is a strong case to be made for him to stand trial in Iraq for massive human rights abuses. The Americans will want to hang onto him in their custody for a while though.

What interrogation techniques are they using?

The Americans consistently deny they use torture in interrogation.

However, they do use something called "stress and duress" techniques which consists of wearing down the prisoner's resistance to questioning without necessarily physically harming them.

Who apart from Saddam Hussein does this leave outstanding on the coalition's major target list?

Around 20. The most notorious of those still at large is (excluding Saddam Hussein) Izzat Ibrahim Al-Douri, the vice chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council, Iraq's ruling body.

'Chemical Ali' captured
21 Aug 03  |  Middle East
'First step to justice' say Kurds
21 Aug 03  |  Middle East
'Chemical Ali' reported dead
07 Apr 03  |  Middle East

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