Ahmad Chalabi

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Ahmad Chalabi (born 30 October 1944) is an Iraqi politician and the head of the Iraqi National Congress. In 1992, he was convicted in Jordan of making false statements and embezzling $230 million from Petra Bank (his own), for which he was sentenced in absentia to twenty-two years of hard labor. He has close links with the neocons and was a long time proponent of regime change in Iraq.

Along with Sharif Ali Bin-al-Husayn and Muhammad Muhammad Ali, Chalabi was part of an Iraqi National Congress delegation to Washington which met with State Department staffers in February 2001. During the visit he called for intensified US airstrikes to pave the way for regime change.[1]

Contents

The Bank Job

Jane Mayer writes:

On April 9, 1992, a military tribunal in Jordan delivered a two-hundred-and-twenty-three-page verdict, which concluded that Chalabi was guilty of thirty-one charges, including embezzlement, theft, forgery, currency speculation, making false statements, and making bad loans to himself, to his friends, and to his family’s other financial enterprises, in Lebanon and Switzerland. The Jordanian docket shows that Chalabi was sentenced to serve twenty-two years of hard labor, and to pay back two hundred and thirty million dollars in embezzled funds. An Arthur Andersen audit commissioned by Jordanian authorities found that the bank had overstated its assets by more than three hundred million dollars. In addition, a hundred and fifty-eight million dollars had disappeared from its accounts, apparently as a result of transactions involving people linked to the former management. (Swiss documents obtained by the Newsweek correspondent Mark Hosenball show that Socofi, an investment firm in Switzerland run by the Chalabi family, also collapsed under suspicious circumstances, leading to pleas of no contest by two of Chalabi’s brothers, Jawad and Hazam, in 2000.) [2]

Selling War

Ahmad Chalabi, who prides himself on his deep understanding of power in US politics, claims Frank D. Roosevelt as his inspiration for selling the war against Iraq. "The Lend-Lease program committed Roosevelt to enter on Britain’s side—so we had the Iraq Liberation Act, which committed the American people for the liberation against Saddam.” He told Jane Mayer of the New Yorker, referring to the '98 act which made “regime change” in Iraq the official policy of the U.S. government. Chalabi was one of its main instigators.[3] Though deeply distrusted by the CIA who "disputed his intelligence data and questioned his ethics" he had developed a close relationship with the Dick Cheney and many neocons at the Pentagon such as Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, and William Luti.[4]

INC lobbyist Francis Brooke has described Chalabi's sell-job as “an amazing success.” He told Jane Mayer, “This war would not have been fought if it had not been for Ahmad.” According to Gen. Anthony Zinni: “Chalabi was the crutch the neocons leaned on to justify their intervention. He twisted the intelligence that they based it on, and provided a picture so rosy and unrealistic they thought it would be easy.” Robert Baer argues that “Chalabi was scamming the U.S. because the U.S. wanted to be scammed.”[5]

Supporters

  • Paul Wolfowitz
  • Richard Perle
  • Jim Hoagland - the Washington Post columnist argued that the raid on Chalabi’s home was in retaliation for his criticism of the handling of the occupation.
  • Peter Galbraith - a long time backer of Chalabi’s regime-change agenda; calls him "the Moses of Iraq" and "one of the smartest people I know”. According to Galbraith "It’s not his fault that his strategy succeeded. It’s not his fault that the Bush Administration believed everything he said...He’s not a liar; he believed the information he was purveying, and part of it was valuable. But his goal was to get the U.S. to invade Iraq.” Asked about the allegations of corruption and cronyism against Chalabi, Galbraith responded with the gem: historically, “the lines drawn between politics and business are different in the Middle East.” [6]
  • Danielle Pletka - of the corruption charges against Chalabi she said: “I’m not sure it matters. No one said you have to be a saint to be a patriot.”
  • Judith Miller - "I've been covering Chalabi for about 10 years...He has provided most of the front page exclusives on WMD to our paper."[7]

Affiliations

External Resources

References

  1. Iraq/UK: Opposition plans satellite TV channel from London, BBC Monitoring Worldwide Media, 7 February 2001.
  2. Jane Mayer, The Manipulator, New Yorker, 7 June 2004
  3. Jane Mayer, The Manipulator, New Yorker, 7 June 2004
  4. Jane Mayer, The Manipulator, New Yorker, 7 June 2004
  5. Jane Mayer, The Manipulator, New Yorker, 7 June 2004
  6. Jane Mayer, The Manipulator, New Yorker, 7 June 2004
  7. Howard Kurtz, Intra-Times Battle Over Iraqi Weapons, Washington Post, 26 May 2003, archived at CommonDreams.org.
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