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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Chemical Ali Now in U.S. Custody

Aired August 21, 2003 - 07:10   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Back to the breaking story, Chemical Ali apparently now in U.S. custody.
To Chris Plante at the Pentagon for more on this developing story there.

Chris -- good morning.

CHRIS PLANTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, bill.

That's right, Chemical Ali, who is one of the highest-priority targets on the most-wanted list -- he is the king of spades in the deck of cards -- is now in U.S. custody, according to U.S. officials here. He was apparently taken into custody several days ago. No announcement has been made; don't expect an official announcement.

But Chemical Ali is believed to be responsible for the 1987 chemical attacks against the Kurdish population in northern Iraq, now in U.S. custody -- Bill.

HEMMER: Chris, also, if we go back to the history during the last war here, Chemical Ali, for days, was considered killed in military strikes on his home in southeastern Iraq in the town of Basra. You mentioned the gassing of the Kurds going back to the 1980s. How valuable could he be at this point?

PLANTE: Well, given that finding out what happened to the chemical weapons is one of the highest priorities of the coalition, they're certainly hopeful that he'll be of great value. It's not clear right now whether he's talking, but he is in custody.

There was a report, as you said, in April that he had been killed in an aerial bombardment -- apparently not the case.

HEMMER: All right, Christ Plante at the Pentagon with a story still breaking at this point, we'll cut you free to get more information. We'll talk in a little bit. Thanks -- Chris Plante from the Pentagon there.

Chemical Ali, though, in U.S. custody, as Chris pointed out, apprehended a few days ago. When and where is not quite clear. But the bottom line: Chemical Ali now apprehended.

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