Sunday, August 08, 2004

Nice to Feel Wanted Again 

Via Zemblan patriot P.S.: It sounds as though Ahmed Chalabi's renowned forgery shop may have branched out into the currency buisiness. But before you judge him too harshly, consider -- when the Pentagon cuts off your $340,000-a-month stipend, it can be darned hard to make ends meet:
Iraq has issued an arrest warrant for Ahmed Chalabi, a former governing council member, on counterfeiting charges and another for Salem Chalabi, the head of Iraq's special tribunal, on murder charges, Iraq's chief investigating judge said Sunday.

The warrant was a new sign of the fall of Ahmed Chalabi from the centers of power. Chalabi, a longtime exile opposition leader, had been a favorite of many in the Pentagon but fell out with the Americans earlier this year.

His nephew, Salem Chalabi, heads the tribunal that is due to try Saddam on war crimes charges.

"They should be arrested and then questioned and then we will evaluate the evidence, and then if there is enough evidence, they will be sent to trial," said Judge Zuhair al-Maliky.

The warrants, issued Saturday, accused Ahmed Chalabi of counterfeiting old Iraqi dinars -- which had been removed from circulation following the fall of Saddam's regime last year, he said.

Ahmed Chalabi appeared to have been hiding the counterfeit money amid other old money and changing it into new dinars in the street, he said.

Police found the counterfeit money along with old dinars in Ahmed Chalabi's house during a May raid, he said.
The L.A. Times (via Atrios) has more on Salem's case:
Chalabi, whose uncle is former Governing Council member Ahmad Chalabi, has been accused by two individuals of attempting to intimidate Haitham Fadhil, a Finance Ministry official who was investigating the Chalabi family's real estate holdings when he was killed in May . . . .

The investigation began after the May 28 shooting of Fadhil, who was preparing a report on reclaiming government-owned real estate.

Fadhil "was trying to get back those properties that belonged to the people," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "He told his wife and a friend that he had received a lot of threats from Mr. Salem Chalabi directly, who told him: 'You will not stay for long. We will get rid of you.' "

Witnesses told Iraqi investigators that Fadhil feared for his life and had given a copy of his report to another person for safekeeping. The copy is in the possession of the Central Criminal Court of Iraq, the source said. Court investigators want to question Chalabi . . . .

"They are trying to damage Salem to get to his uncle," said Zaab Sethna, an INC spokesman in London. He questioned the validity of the court and said the judges "take their order from the Americans."
The Times also notes that Salem is in Kuwait, "traveling with Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi," which means the legal process could be considerably expedited.

UPDATE (8/9): Spencer Ackerman of Iraq'd has a proposal that wins major points for elegance. Why doesn't Allawi extradite Ahmed to Jordan, where he can serve out his 22-year sentence on a conviction for embezzlement?

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