US raids ally's Baghdad offices

Iraqi police and US troops have raided the head office of the party of Governing Council member Ahmad Chalabi, a key US ally.

    Chalabi is a convicted fraudster

    The joint force entered the Iraqi National Congress (INC)

    building in southern Baghdad at 0545

    GMT on Thursday, and removed documents, Chalabi's personal files, computers and

    personal belongings, said a security

    chief at the building.

    "They took some personal documents, as well as files, party

    files and weapons, but they didn't arrest anyone," the chief said

    , declining to give his name.

    Chalabi was not in the building - the headquarters of his INC

    group and where he sometimes sleeps - at the time of the raid, the

    source added.

    An AFP photographer said Chalabi's bedroom had been turned

    upside down, cupboards left bare and framed portraits of the INC

    leader smashed.

    A US military spokeswoman referred all inquries about the

    incident to the Iraqi interior ministry and was unable to confirm that 

    American troops took part in the raid.

    Chalabi told the US there were
    WMDs in Iraq 

    False information?

    But six Humvees and an armoured vehicle were still parked at the

    road early on Thursday afternoon.

    Chalabi, a secular Shia, has recently courted disapproval from

    Washington amid claims his INC party fed false information to

    the US government and media before the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

    US Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said on Wednesday

    that

    the Pentagon had halted its monthly payments of $340,000 to

    Chalabi's party and would seek other intelligence sources on Iraq.

    Chalabi has long been viewed with distrust by the Central

    Intelligence Agency and the State Department, but was closely

    aligned with hawks in the Pentagon, which flew him and INC

    militiamen into southern Iraq shortly after the invasion.

    The INC has been providing information to the CIA-led group

    hunting for Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction as well as

    other intelligence to help protect US troops.

    SOURCE: AFP


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