"Weapons of Mass Deception"


Chalabi and the Iran Connection

Tuesday August 10, 2004
Saifullah Khan

Chalabi, a former member of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, was once hailed by many in the Bush administration as the likely next leader of a post-Saddam Iraq. He took a fall after increasingly clashing with Washington on issues like how much power would be handed over to Iraqis when the country regains sovereignty. U.S. intelligence officials said that Chalabi informed Iran that the United States had broken the secret communications codes used by Iranian intelligence to transmit sensitive messages to posts around the world. Chalabi has denied the charge.

Dr. Ahmed Adel Hadi Chalabi is a Shi'a Muslim. He is the son of a wealthy banking family whose grandfather, father and brother held prominent posts in Iraqi governments until Saddam Hussein's Baath Party seized power in 1968. He has not lived in Iraq since 1956, apart from a period organizing resistance in the Kurdish north in the mid-1990s. Chalabi was born in Baghdad on 30 Oct 1944. He received basic education from Baghdad and in 1956 his family shifted to the United States. He received education from USA/UK and qualified Ph.D in Mathematics from Chicago University. He then joined American University Beirut. In 1977 he established a bank named "Petra Bank" in Amman, Jordan. The bank became the second largest banking asset of Jordan. Later on, a Jordanian Court accused him for bank fraud and awarded him 17 years punishment. He succeeded to escape from Jordan. He mostly lived in USA& UK.

In 1990, Mr Ahmed Chalabi participated actively in the Kurds resistance movement in Northern Iraq and planned to establish a separate political party. In 1992 he established a political party named Iraqi National Congress (INC). His party established close links with Americans/CIA. He was able to penetrate American policy making circles through Israeli friends and remained in the good books of Dick Cheney, the Vice President. On the other hand, being a common enemy of Saddam's regime, his party remained close to Iranian authorities.

In 1998 he tried to play a middleman role between Israel and Iran but failed. He visited Iran many times to hold meetings with high officials. In Mar 2003 he approached the Iranian diplomatic mission in London and asked for multiple entry visa for him & Mr Francis. Mr Francis was an American national expert of ME crises and was enjoying close relations with CIA as well as Condoleezza Rice. Both were awarded with Multiple Entry Visa. When they arrived in Tehran, they were warmly received by Iranian authorities. During the visit they held meetings with high officials including President Syed Muhammad Khatami, the Foreign Minister and IRGC/Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) authorities. The Iranians also managed a meeting of Mr Francis with some journalists. In reply to different questions, Mr Francis said, "We understand there are only two factors that have encouraged the spread of fundamentalism in Arab countries. Americas most import strategic goal at the moment is to help the Arab people to achieve democracy and to find a just settlement of Palestine issue through establishment of an independent and democratic Palestinian State. Removal of Saddam's regime and helping the Iraqi people to establish democracy will be the beginning of this process. Iraq is the common denominator, which also attacked Iran. Iran has extended valuable help to the Iraqi opposition and enjoys excellent relations with major opposition groups such as Masoud Bazerain, Ahmed Chalalabi and other leaders." He also said, "We cannot deny that Iran enjoys a semblance democracy but we hope that it will be further developed into a true democracy." In another meeting with Iranian officials, Mr Francis said that America was not thinking of attacking Iran or of changing its regime. This visit played an important role after which Iranian Supreme National Security Council held a meeting and decided to support American attacks for change of regime in Baghdad. Subsequently, both Chalalabi and Francis went to Northern Iraq to meet Iraqi Kurd leaders.

In Dec 2003, Mr Ahmed Chalabi again paid an important visit to Tehran. During this visit he held secret meetings with the Supreme Leader and Iranian President, Ministers and IRGC authorities. Details of these meetings have not been published.

The US used Mr Ahmed Chalabi and his party INC to obtain information regarding Saddam's regime and WMD in Iraq. The information so obtained was considered valuable by Americans as they paid a huge amount for this. On the basis of this information, Americans propagated the issue of WMD presence in Iraq and made an excuse to topple Saddam's regime. After invasion of Iraq, the Americans failed to locate any WMD in Iraq. Even then Mr Ahmed Chalabi enjoyed good relations with the US establishment.

In Jan 2004, US President Bush invited a delegation of the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) including Mr Ahmed Chalabi to Washington for the State of the Union address. Mr Chalabi was seated just behind First Lady of USA, Laura Bush. Soon after, Mr Ahmed Chalabi became suspicious of what may be brewing, due to changed and cautious attitude of the Americans towards him. He sensed trouble due to following reasons:-

· Americans realized that Chalabi provided bogus information regarding WMD in Iraq. Chalabi might have provided this bogus information on the instructions of Iran's intelligence (MOIS) to mislead/provoke the Americans against Saddam's regime.

· He criticized US President George W Bush for giving a limited role to the UN in Iraq.

· He received a huge amount from some important figure of Baath Party for helping them escape from Iraq.

· Chalabi and his INC have been used by MOIS (Iran) to pass disinformation to the United States and to collect highly sensitive American secrets. The Iranian MOIS has been manipulating the Americans through Chalabi by feeding his information collection programme to provoke the US into getting rid of Saddam's regime. Mr Haris Karim Habib, Chalabi's intelligence/security advisor played an important role for this job.

· Chalabi ripped off US$ 22 Million from Iraqi Treasury, when Iraq issued new currency last year.

· Chalabi & his INC demanded a prominent political role in future Govt of Iraq but the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA)/Paul Bremer did not support the idea.

After occurrence of difference between Mr Ahmed Chalabi and CPA authorities, Chalabi's home in Baghdad was raided by US backed Iraqi police on 20 May 2004 as part of an investigation into suspicions that INC officials had passed sensitive information to Iran regarding the US. Warrant was also issued for the arrest of Aras Karimi Habib who was Chalabi's information/security advisor and 14 other members of INC. Later on, according to media reports, American officials said that Chalabi told the Baghdad Station Chief of Iran's MOIS that the US was reading the communication traffic of the Iranian spy service because they had broken the 'secret communication code.' The Americans intercepted this communication while it was being transmitted from Baghdad to Tehran. Now the FBI has opened up an espionage investigation seeking to determine exactly what information Mr Chalabi had turned over to Iran as well as who told Mr Chalabi that Iranian secret communication code had been broken. The investigation is focused on a small number of people who were close to Mr Chalabi and also had access to the secret information about the Iranian code.

Mr Ahmed Chalabi has admitted that he had relations with Iran and the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad but denied any type of intelligence links and dismissed the notion that he may have been working as an agent for Iran. He stated that police raid on his house/office was politically motivated. He added that his calls for Iraqi sovereignty and an end to the US occupation have made him unpopular with the Bush Administration, which he said is running a failed occupation. He blamed the CIA Director and said he would cooperate with US investigations.

Iran gave a cold response to the issue of Mr Chalabi and has adopted a careful approach. However, the following statements of Irani officials appeared in the media:-

· Ayatullah Hassan Rowhani, Secretary Supreme National Security Council said, "We ruled out the claims that Iraqi Governing Council member Ahmed Chalabi had links with Iran. Mr Chalabi had been an Iraqi dissident who used to attend different meetings abroad during the regime of Saddam. He used to be mainly in close contact with Americans. Iran had no special link in terms of information exchange with Chalabi.

· Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said that they always had cordial and friendly relations with the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC). It is possible that Chalabi opposed some US policies and Washington wanted him out of picture and therefore they framed him. There has never been any special relationship between Mr Ahmed Chalabi and Iran. He said that it was all baseless American propaganda and slogan mongering.

Nevertheless, events taking place tell us that Chalabi had secret links with Iranian intelligence agencies, especially to get rid of Saddam's regime. It may be true that Iran actually fed bogus/fabricated information to Chalabi for misleading the US. Americans accepted the same because it fitted in their anti Saddam agenda and Chalabi may have done it to get importance in Iraq after toppling Saddam. The Americans presently believe that major part of information provided by defector such as Chalabi was wrong and fabricated.

The situation worsened when in March 2004, Chalabi hesitated to sign the Interim Iraqi Constitution. In April 2004, UN envoy Lakhder Brahimi indicated that Chalabi would not be awarded any prominent political role in Iraq in post June 30 government. Later, the Americans stopped Chalabi's monthly financial aid and in the beginning of May 2004 Chalabi was denied meeting with Paul Bremer.

The case of Chalabi is full of suspicion and mistrust by all parties linked with this personality. Till recently Chalabi was having the best of everything. He was milking both the Americans and the Iranians and received millions of dollars from both sides for his services. Perhaps the Americans lost interest in him as he had lost his utility and was therefore required to be dumped as the US policy goes. At this point in time it is also a good opportunity to put all the blame on Chalabi for the failed American intelligence attributing the hoax of WMDs to him. And perhaps it is also better for the Iranians to distance themselves from Chalabi as he has completed the good work of ridding Iraq of Saddam.

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Milton Frihetsson, 19:43


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