BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) # Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as “Chemical Ali,” a cousin of Saddam Hussein and the man who is believed to have ordered the 1988 chemical weapons attack on Kurds, is in U.S. custody, the U.S. military said Thursday.
More than 5,000 Kurds are believed to have died in the chemical attacks.
Al-Majid was taken into custody several days ago, the military said. The circumstances of his capture were not immediately available.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Colin Powell said Thursday that the United States is looking into a new U.N. resolution that “might call on member states to do more” to bolster security in Iraq.
The diplomatic move comes in the wake of Tuesday’s bombing in Baghdad that killed at least 23 people, including Sergio Vieira de Mello, the top U.N. envoy in Iraq.
Al-Majid is the king of spades and No. 5 in the deck of cards issued by the military of the 55 most-wanted Iraqis.
He served as a general, presidential adviser, a member of Saddam’s inner circle, commander of the Baath Party Regional Command, member of the Revolutionary Command Council, and head of the Central Workers Bureau.
He had been coordinating the resistance in southern Iraq during the war, according to the coalition, and had been the de facto governor of Kuwait after Iraq invaded that country in 1990.
In April, coalition officials believed he was killed in a coalition air strike on his house, but they later had to retract that claim. He later was thought to have been in hiding in northern Iraq, possibly in Tikrit, the home of his clan.
The news comes a few days after another key official, Taha Yasin Ramadan, Iraq’s former vice president, was reported to have been captured.
Officials with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan said their forces had captured Ramadan in the northern city of Mosul and handed him over to the U.S. military.