Saddam Hussein’s cousin – the notorious “Chemical Ali” – and two other top Iraqi leaders are believed to have been killed in the U.S. “decapitation attack” in Baghdad, according to a broadcast report.

Saddam’s cousin ‘Chemical Ali’ (photo: The Guardian)

CIA officials told ABC News that Taha Yasin Ramadan, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, and Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as Chemical Ali, are thought to be victims of the opening salvo of the war.

A CIA spokesman said the agency had no information to confirm the fatalities, but government officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told ABC they had reason to believe the three men were dead.

Their conclusion was reached by analyzing radio traffic and expected movements of the key figures.

Al-Majid earned his chilling nickname of Chemical Ali after deciding the best way to put down a rebellion of Kurds was to gas them.

According to, he “orchestrated the gassing of Kurdish villages carried out by low-flying helicopters with express orders to kill every living thing in the area, including plants and wildlife. This was all part of Operation Anfal (meaning ‘the spoils’), which saw the widespread use of chemical weapons against the Kurds in northern Iraq. International observers estimate Iraqi forces killed 50,000 to 100,000 people. …

“In March 1988, in the town of Halabja, 5,000 Kurds died writhing in agony and 10,000 were seriously affected when Iraqi jets dropped chemical bombs on the town. On March 16, 1988, an estimated 5,000 civilians were killed and 10,000 injured when Iraqi air forces bombarded Halabja with mustard and other poison gases. Over a decade after the massacre, the people of Halabja still suffer from very high rates of serious diseases such as cancer, neurological disorders, birth defects and miscarriages.”

The Gulf News of Dubai reports “most Iraqis regard al-Majid as a psychopath who is capable of killing large numbers of civilians and blaming all on the coalition forces.”

F-117 Nighthawk used in Operation: Iraqi Freedom

Saddam recently appointed his cousin as commander of the southern forces in Iraq, looking to keep the population of Basra loyal to Hussein and protecting the key port city from invading coalition forces.

As for the other two high-ranking leaders, both Ramadan and Ibrahim have been longtime advisers to Saddam. Along with the dictator himself, the two men were the only surviving plotters of the 1968 coup that helped bring the Baath party to power.

None of the three appeared in a videotape of Saddam meeting with advisers released earlier today.

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