Controversial Chalabi returns to Iraq

Controversial Iraqi politician Ahmad Chalabi returned on Wednesday to Baghdad, where an arrest warrant has been issued against him on money counterfeiting charges.

    Chalabi: Warrants are politically motivated

    "He is back home among his folks," a senior aide Mithal al-Alusi told AFP. "He will shower, have some tea and then resume his national duties."

    The spokesman of Chalabi's party the Iraqi National Congress (INC) also confirmed the return of his party leader.

    "Dr Ahmad is in Baghdad. We cannot say anything more, given the security situation and the legal conditions," said Haidar Moussawi.

    Double arrest warrants

    An Iraqi judge issued an arrest warrant against Ahmad Chalabi. The judge also issued another warrant against his nephew Salim Chalabi for murder.

    Both men have denied the charges, saying they were politically motivated.

    Chalabi is no longer a US favourite

    Chalabi, who founded the Iraqi National Congress as an opposition group to Saddam Hussein that initially brought together foes of the former Iraqi leader, was once tipped to lead post-Saddam Iraq but his influence waned after his ties with Washington soured in recent months.

    Initial reports said he was in Tehran, Iran spending a vacation, but later reports said he was attending a conference when the warrant was issued.

    Alleged connections with Iran have contributed to Chalabi's fall from Washington's grace. He was accused of passing sensitive information to Iran.

    Najaf not Stalingrad

    In an exclusive interview with Aljazeera, Ahmad Chalabi described the charges against him as silly.

    "They are silly, and the judge is a fresh graduate of law, who was appointed by Paul Bremer, who made him a first class judge.

    "He was keen to attack me, my family and my nephew Salim Chalabi". He added, "this judge should step down".

    Chalabi did not elaborate as to why the judge was targeting him.

    He demanded that Moqtada al-Sadr should be incorporated in Iraq's political life, and called for US forces to stop targeting Najaf.

    "Najaf is not Stalingrad to be bombed with warplanes."

    Eviction order

    Alusi also said Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress (INC) party had vacated one of the two buildings that make up its Baghdad headquarters, but would not relinquish the other, as demanded under a government eviction order.

    "Najaf is not Stalingrad to be bombed with warplanes."

    Ahmed Chalabi, INC leader

    INC officials abandoned a building which belonged to the former Iraqi secret service, but refused to leave the adjacent, so-called Chinese House, where Chalabi also lives.

    "This villa is a symbol of democracy," said Alusi, adamant that the party would not budge, after the two orders, dated 30 June 30 and 7 August, were delivered by a US soldier on Tuesday.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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