Troops Nab Iraqi Fugitive's Kin

U.S. troops arrested the wife and daughter of a top Saddam Hussein deputy suspected of masterminding attacks on U.S. troops, and a major pipeline linking northern Iraqi oilfields to the country's biggest refinery was ablaze Wednesday.

Hours after large explosions shook the center of Baghdad near U.S. headquarters, the visiting British foreign secretary said Iraq will be a safer place once the U.S.- and British-led coalition hands over power to an Iraqi government.

Troops of the U.S. 4th Infantry Division in Samarra, 70 miles north of Baghdad, arrested the wife and daughter of Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, a top Saddam associate, division spokesman Lt. Col. William MacDonald said Wednesday.

Under Saddam, al-Douri was vice chairman of the ruling Revolutionary Command Council, and shortly before the war began March 20, Saddam placed him in charge of defenses in northern Iraq.

U.S. officials have said they believe al-Douri has planned some of the attacks against U.S. forces, and last week offered a $10 million reward for information leading to his capture. Al-Douri is No. 6 on the list of 55 most-wanted Iraqis.

In other developments:

  • The former chief of Iraq's interim administration, retired Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, said in a BBC interview broadcast Wednesday that the U.S.-led coalition made mistakes after it took control of Baghdad. "If we did it over again, we probably would have put more dismounted infantrymen in Baghdad and maybe more troops there," Garner said, when asked what the biggest mistakes of the occupation had been.
  • Iraq's largest left-wing party says a lot of the current violence could have been avoided if U.S. officials had listened to its advice in May. A representative of the Iraqi Communist Party says the U.S. was advised to let a national conference pick a legitimate government..)
  • In a case that has pitted reservists from the 320th Military Police Battalion against fellow soldiers who reported them, four U.S. soldiers are accused of beating prisoners of war at a detention camp in Iraq. Several who had been present for the incident testified that the Pennsylvania soldiers punched and kicked prisoners who were being brought to Camp Bucca in southern Iraq on May 12. One prisoner suffered a broken nose.
  • The Americans are telling a "shameless lie" when they say they are in Iraq to bring about democracy, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Wednesday. Addressing the nation on the first day of an Islamic feast, Khamenei condemned the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq as "degrading for the Iraqi people."
  • A new-look American force in Iraq early next year is going to depend a lot more on National Guard and Reserve personnel for combat duty. The Pentagon's plan for replacing the 130,000 American troops currently in Iraq with a fresh contingent would also downsize the force by about 20 percent and trade firepower for mobility.
  • The U.S. military has received 10,402 compensation claims from Iraqis, and as of Nov. 12 had paid out a total of $1,540,050 for for personal injury, wrongful death, or property damage caused by American troops in noncombat related incidents. The payouts average just a few hundred dollars per claim, and there is little other recourse for families of those killed by troops, reports CBS News Reporter Lisa Barron.

    Three large explosions shook downtown Baghdad on Tuesday evening, triggering a warning siren in the "Green Zone" housing the U.S. headquarters. Capt. David Gercken, a spokesman for the U.S. 1st Armored Division, said rockets hit a bus station, a propane station and an apartment building, wounding two Iraqis, near — but not in — the "Green Zone."

    British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, on a two-day visit to Iraq, said a political transition to Iraqi rule will improve the security situation. More than five dozen U.S. troops have been killed by hostile fire in November, more than any other month since the official end of major combat in Iraq on May 1.

    "The more that we can give all Iraqis a stake in their future and a stable political architecture in which to work, the more I believe more Iraqis will become committed to that future and fewer will think that terror and quiescence in terror is the way forward."

    Straw said the obstacles in Iraq shouldn't come as a surprise.

    "Military action is an uncertain business," he said. "What we knew that we faced for certain was a tyrant in Saddam Hussein and a highly organized network of terror and repression, and we were never under any illusions that it would be possible to remove this in one go."

    U.S. Col. William Darley, said Tuesday that attacks against U.S. forces peaked at more than 40 per day about two weeks ago and have since dropped to about 30 per day — about the same as in October and well over the number in August and September.

    Since operations began in Iraq, 297 U.S. service members have died in hostile action, including 183 since May 1 when President Bush declared an end to major fighting.

    The U.S. command has in recent weeks pursued insurgents more aggressively in an attempt to stop them before they strike.

    In one such operation, troops from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment encircled three towns along the Syrian border in a search for weapons and fighters, according to a U.S. News and World Report correspondent who returned from the area Tuesday.

    The troops established a cordon Thursday around the towns of Husaybah, Karabilah and Sadah, total population 120,000, and haven't let anyone in or out, the reporter said, adding that troops were conducting sweeps through the encircled territory.

    Witnesses near the village of Sharqat, 170 miles north of Baghdad, said sheets of flame and thick black smoke were shooting from the damaged pipeline, only 30 miles from Iraq's largest oil refinery.

    There was no immediate explanation for the cause of the blaze, but guerrillas have repeatedly attacked pipelines in the general area. The attacks have complicated efforts to revive Iraq's giant petroleum industry, the key to its economic recovery.