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Rym Brahimi: 'Big catches' in custody

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Brahimi: "The situation in Baghdad is not stable."

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Tariq Aziz, the face of Iraq to the world under Saddam, has surrendered to coalition custody.
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- U.S. authorities are holding two former top officials in Saddam Hussein's toppled regime they describe as "big catches."

Former intelligence official and ambassador Farouk Hijazi was captured Thursday night and former Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz turned himself in.

Correspondent Rym Brahimi is in Baghdad and discussed the developments with CNN's Daryn Kagan

BRAHIMI: Well, indeed this is quite a big catch for the U.S. military. Interestingly enough, however, Farouk Al-Hijazi was not on the list of 55 most-wanted Iraqi officials that was drafted by the U.S. military. Although Farouk Hijazi may have a lot to tell his captors right now, he was suspected in '93 of having been behind the plots to assassinate President George Bush Sr., in Kuwait. They said it was an attempt by Iraq to assassinate the former president. Well, if that's the case, he will have a lot of things to tell them again.

But he was also considered by some media reports -- and again, that hasn't been proven at all -- to have been the man sent over to Afghanistan in '98 to establish links with al Qaeda. Again, no proof of that --there are just media reports. But definitely this man, who was the third highest ranking in President Saddam Hussein's security apparatus, definitely is quite a big catch.

Also, a big catch, of course, Tariq Aziz, the deputy prime minister of Iraq. He was one of President Saddam Hussein's closest aides for years and years and years. They go way back to the 1950s when they were students together, when they were members of the then-banned Baath Party.

We caught up with the family of Tariq Aziz. CNN's Nic Robertson went to the house of Tariq Aziz and spoke to some relatives who said that Tariq Aziz decided to surrender. He surrendered at 11 p.m. on Thursday. He was mainly concerned this would take place in a dignified manner. The day the war started Tariq Aziz came out to prove that he hadn't been killed or hadn't defected as there were a lot of rumors around ... and he said he had said prior to that he would die rather than surrendering to U.S. forces.

Well, he has surrendered. Probably his calculation would have been that he would be safer in U.S. custody than in the hands of the Iraqis at the time when of course, there's a lot of resentment now coming out toward the Iraqi regime. And it would also bring the certainty for many Iraqis that the regime is definitely gone. But that's probably the only uncertainty there will be.

The situation in Baghdad is not stable. Just a few moments ago there was gunfire just coming from the mosque in the background here. So definitely, it's still a city very much in movement right here. Back to you.


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