Chalabi aide reportedly wanted for spying

U.S Army soldiers stand guard Thursday outside the residence of Iraqi politician Ahmad Chalabi in Baghdad.
U.S Army soldiers stand guard Thursday outside the residence of Iraqi politician Ahmad Chalabi in Baghdad.Muhammed Muheisen / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

The Kurdish security chief for embattled Iraqi politician Ahmad Chalabi is being sought by Iraqi and coalition authorities for alleged links to Iran’s intelligence service, a senior Iraqi official said Saturday.

There is an arrest warrant for Araz Habib because “he has relations with the Iranian government” and “works for the Iranian intelligence,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

Chalabi also told reporters Thursday that Habib was named in a warrant shown to him when Iraqi police, backed by U.S. soldiers, raided his home in western Baghdad. Chalabi did not disclose the charges against Habib, who has not been taken into custody.

A Chalabi aide, Haidar Musawi, told The Associated Press that he did not know Habib’s whereabouts. However, Musawi called the allegations a “ridiculous” attempt to undermine Chalabi, a longtime Pentagon favorite who is now out of favor with the U.S.-run Coalition Provisional Authority.

“These allegations are ridiculous and are coming from a body that wants to fight and tarnish the reputation of a political personality that has its clear political stances,” Musawi said. “They are resorting to such means to get back at Dr. Ahmad Chalabi through getting to the officials and employees of” his Iraqi National Congress.

U.S. shuns Chalabi
Chalabi was once groomed as a possible successor to Saddam Hussein and provided much of the information about Iraq’s purported weapons of mass destruction program on which President Bush justified the Iraq war.

However, with no major weapons stocks found so far and the Iraq crisis worsening, the Bush administration appears anxious to jettison Chalabi as Iraqis prepare to retake sovereignty June 30.

Chalabi’s long-standing contacts with Iran have left some in the U.S. government suspicious about his intentions, but Chalabi has denied allegations that he handed over sensitive information to Iran about the U.S. occupation.

U.S. officials have complained privately that Chalabi was interfering with an inquiry into money skimmed from the U.N. oil-for-food program by pursuing his own probe. Chalabi’s vigorous campaign to purge former members of Saddam’s Baath party appear to have backfired with the Americans now seeking officials of the former regime for key roles in security and other institutions.

Chalabi also has recently accused the coalition of not going far enough in its plans for giving Iraqis political power June 30, although U.S. officials insist they will grant full sovereignty.