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Iraqi Party Denies Capture Report

August 5, 1998

LONDON (AP) _ An Iraqi opposition group denied Wednesday that two of the gunmen who shot and seriously wounded Saddam Hussein’s son had been captured by Iraqi security forces.

The Islamic Daawa Party, which claimed responsibility for the 1996 assassination attempt, said in a statement that all of those involved in the attack ``are safe and free.″

Iraq’s General Directorate of Security said Monday that Iraq’s security forces had captured two of the five men who shot and seriously wounded Saddam’s oldest son, Odai, on Dec. 12, 1996. It said the three others were still at large.

It accused a ``neighboring foreign country″ of masterminding the attack but stopped short of naming the country. After the attack, Odai pointed the finger at Iran, which has denied any involvement.

Odai, who is now 34, was shot about 10 times while he waited in his car in an upscale Baghdad neighborhood. In April 1997, surgeons operated on his shattered left leg and he has since been shown on television walking with the aid of a cane.

The Islamic Daawa Party said the Iraqi claims were an attempt by Saddam to justify a recent campaign in which more than 760 people have been arrested in the last month.

The group, the biggest and most influential Islamic Shiite opposition group in Iraq, is one of two that claimed responsibility for the attempt on Odai Hussein’s life. The other is the Mohammed Madhlum al-Dulaimi Group, named after an Iraqi air force general executed for plotting against Saddam.

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