Veteran Iraqi politician Ahmed Chalabi, a key player in the lead-up to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, has died of a heart attack.

Chalabi, the head of parliament's finance committee, died on Tuesday in his Kadhimiya residence in Baghdad. He was 71.

The first deputy speaker of parliament, Sheik Humam Hamoudi, lamented Chalabi's death as a "big loss" to Iraq, calling him "an example of perseverance and dedication".

"Our national and political arena has lost a prominent figure who dedicated his life to serve the country," he added in a statement.

Opposition to Saddam

Born in October 1944 to an affluent Shia family in Baghdad, Chalabi was a long-time opposition figure dedicated to overthrowing the government of Saddam Hussein.

He left Iraq in 1956 and spent most of his life in Britain and the United States, where he received a doctorate in mathematics.


Related: Profile: Ahmed Chalabi


Having lived in exile for decades as head of the Iraqi National Congress, Chalabi was a top proponent of the invasion to topple Saddam and provided false information indicating that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

He had close ties to many in the Bush administration, who viewed him as a favourite to lead Iraq after the 2003 invasion.

However, he had a falling out with the Pentagon following the invasion and was largely sidelined by other Iraqi leaders.

Chalabi held the rotating presidency of the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council after the invasion, served as deputy prime minister and also temporarily held the key oil portfolio, but he never reached the political heights to which he aspired. 

Source: Al Jazeera And Agencies