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U.S.: Iraqi hospital chief linked to al-Qaida

/ Source: The Associated Press

The acting administrator of a psychiatric hospital in Baghdad has been detained on suspicion that he played a role in supplying patient information to al-Qaida in Iraq, the U.S. military said Wednesday.

Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, a military spokesman, said U.S. and Iraqi forces arrested the man in his office Sunday and conducted a "thorough search" of the al-Rashad psychiatric hospital in Baghdad.

"Coalition forces detained a hospital administrator in connection with the possible exploitation of mentally impaired women to al-Qaida," Smith said.

"The administrator remains in coalition force detention and is being questioned to determine what role if any in supplying al-Qaida with information regarding patients at the al-Rashad psychiatric hospital or from other medical facilities in Baghdad," he added.

Investigation into Feb. 1 bombings
He said the man, whom he did not identify, was detained as part of the investigation into the Feb. 1 bombings of two crowded pet markets in Baghdad. He said he could not provide more details, citing the ongoing investigation.

U.S. and Iraqi officials blamed al-Qaida for the bombings and said the bombers were two mentally disabled women strapped with remote-control explosives and apparently did not know they were being used. Iraqi officials put the death toll at 99 in both attacks.

The U.S. military later expressed concern that al-Qaida was increasingly turning to women and children as suicide bombers to get around stepped up security measures.