Members of the Iraqi National Congress and its leader Ahmed Chalabi were airlifted into southern Iraq the day Saddam’s government fell. Chalabi was President Bush’s guest at the State of the Union address. Even today, the INC gets $340,000 a month from the Pentagon to feed the United States intelligence information.
But NBC News has learned that members of the group are now under investigation by Iraqi police in Baghdad — allegations of:
- stealing 11 Iraqi government vehicles
- assaulting police by firing on them during a search.
An Iraqi police official says one doctor claims he was kidnapped at gunpoint: “They bound him, took him to an unknown place and after he got back to his house he discovered they took $20,000. We caught the suspects and they said they were from the INC.”
Iraqi authorities tell NBC that four INC operatives are under arrest, and an arrest warrant has been issued for the INC’s chief of intelligence.
The INC confirms its offices were searched six times and 11 cars seized. But officials say they’ve done nothing illegal. “There is something going on which basically is, what it appears to me, is trying to put political pressure on the INC,”according to INC official Mudhar Shawkat.
All this comes in the wake of findings that key intelligence on weapons of mass destruction provided by Chalabi’s group was false, perhaps even fabricated.
In fact, the former head of the weapons hunt, David Kay, questions why a group that provided “fabricated information” is still on the U.S. payroll. “You know, once taken, excused," says Kay. "Twice taken you’re an idiot. And I think we’re now at the point of we’re really an idiot.”
Tonight, a Pentagon spokesman says he knows nothing about the police investigation but that the 4 million taxpayer dollars going to Chalabi’s group is already being reviewed.
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