Sun, Jun 11, 2006 - Page 7 News List

FBI technicians test Zarqawi's DNA

JUST TO BE SURE Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's body was identified through facial recognition and known scars, and samples of his DNA were flown to Washington

AFP , BAGHDAD

The US military yesterday awaited the results of DNA tests by the FBI on the body of al-Qaeda's slain Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, as operations continued to track down his followers.

"The FBI is conducting the tests and we expect the results in a day or two," US military spokesman Major William Wilhoite said.

"We were told yesterday [Friday] that the results would be ready in three days."

Zarqawi was killed on Wednesday in a US air strike on the village of Hibhib, near the restive northeastern city of Baquba, while he was meeting aides.

US F-16 warplanes dropped two medium-sized bombs on a "safe house" where the wanted militant was holding the meeting.

After the strike, samples of Zarqawi's DNA were flown to Washington for analysis.

Interpol on Friday also asked for Zarqawi's fingerprints.

"Police forensic experts will then be able to compare these prints with those in the Interpol database in order to confirm the identification made in Iraq," Interpol said Friday.

Interpol had two search and extradition warrants for Zarqawi.

US military spokesman Major General William Caldwell said Friday that Zarqawi was alive after the air strike, but died of his wounds a few minutes later.

"From the debrief this morning, which gave us greater clarity than we had before, Zarqawi in fact did survive the air strike," Caldwell said.

Iraqi police, the first on the scene, found Zarqawi alive and put him on a stretcher, he added.

US forces "went immediately to the person on the stretcher, were able to start identifying him by some distinguishing marks on his body.

"According to the person on the ground, Zarqawi attempted to sort of turn away off the stretcher. Everybody resecured him on the stretcher, but he died immediately thereafter," Caldwell said.

US military officials said on Thursday that Zarqawi had not survived the attack.

Based on intelligence gathered after the Hibhib raid, security forces were now tracking Zarqawi's aides as "secondary targets." A series of raids have been already carried out against potential targets.

"The resources that were allocated to track Zarqawi will now be directed to chase other people," Muwaffaq al-Rubaie, Iraq's national security advisor, said on Friday.

"The plan is to go after secondary targets," he added.

Security forces arrested eight people Friday in the village where Zarqawi was killed, including Aziz Ali, owner of the house in which the militant met his end.

"Now that we have got him [Zarqawi], it allows us to go after the other targets we have been using to track his movements," Caldwell said.

US forces carried out 17 operations against al-Qaeda militants in and around the Baghdad area on the same night that Zarqawi was hit.

"There were certain personnel that we have been watching and monitoring that coalition forces had made the decision not to take down, because they had given key indicators at different points of time where Zarqawi might be -- so they were monitored, watched and tracked," Caldwell said.

"When Zarqawi went down, that enabled us to go in and conduct those operations," he said, adding that 25 people were detained and one was killed in these raids.

One possible new target could be Egyptian-born militant Abu Ayyub al-Masri, whom the US authorities expect to take over from Zarqawi as al-Qaeda leader in Iraq.

In violence on the ground yesterday, three people were killed and 28 others wounded when a bomb exploded in a popular central Baghdad restaurant.

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