Middle East & Africa
The Iraqi Scene
Chalabi Aides Convicted of Abusing Authority
Philippines to Pull Out Troops from Iraq Soon
By Yasser AbuMoailek
Middle East Correspondent
Gaza City, July 15, 2004 — An Iraqi court convicted a senior aide of Ahmad Al Chalabi of abusing the use of authority, while investigating in a case where 36 billion Iraqi Dinars disappeared during the changing of the old currency to the new one. The court sentenced Sabbah Nouri Al Salem to four and a half years in prison. Al Salem is a member of the "National Congress," a movement headed by Chalabi himself, and used to work as bureau chief of the Minister of Finance in the post-war government. This verdict was considered the first of its kind since the war ended, as the court said that Sabbah Al Salem arrested nine female employees last January and accused them of stealing the disappearing money. The aforementioned employees were detained at a police station without being allowed to call an attorney or even stand before a judge for a periods extending to 40 days. Some of the employees had to sell the deeds of their homes to pay for the bail imposed on them. Al Salem claimed that he arrested those employees based on an order by the Minister of Finance, Kamel Al Kilani, but the latter denied, in a letter sent to the court, these allegations.
|U.S. troops pose in front of one of Saddam Hussein's palaces.|
Photo by Jim Garamone
Meanwhile, the "Guardian" British newspaper mentioned on Tuesday that Ahmad Al Chalabi, who headed the financial committee in the Iraqi Governing Council, was responsible for assigning senior officials in the Ministry of Finance. Al Salem faces new charges of accepting bribery and theft. No charges were made against Chalabi, who considered the investigation in the case of the disappearing of the billion a "political act." On the other hand, a former member of the Iraqi Governing Council revealed American thefts and organized plundering of the Iraqi money, that were carried out secretly and with official illegitimate covering led by the former US Civil Governor of Iraq, Paul Bremer. Dr. Mohammed Bahr Al Uloom, the former member of the IGC, said that the thefts were made through US officials who assumed official positions in Iraq after toppling the former regime, pointing out that the Civil Governor of Iraq Bremer, who ended his term after the handover of authority to the Iraqis, has stole more than $250 billion of Iraqi money, represented by cash stocks and large quantities of mercury and other assets. Bahr Al Uloom, who was speaking in an expanded interview with the "Al Bayyena" Iraqi newspaper, said that Bremer left Iraq after turning it into a budget-empty country, and has exercised a dictatorship on the members of the Governing Council way beyond that of Saddam Hussein. "If Bremer was able to prevent us from drinking water he would certainly have done that," commented Bahr Al Uloom. In the meantime, a spokesman for the US forces in Iraq said that armed insurgents threw early on Tuesday two grenades towards an American patrol in the middle of Baghdad. The spokesman said that the attack resulted in no casualties among the members of the patrol, as the insurgents fled the scene.
|Ahmad Al Chalabi|
A massive explosion echoed throughout the area of Al Athemiya in the city of Baghdad early on Tuesday morning, as eyewitnesses pointed out that the explosion targeted one of the presidential palaces taken by the American forces as their headquarters. As for the hostage kidnappings in Iraq, the Philippines declared yesterday its willingness to withdraw its troops from Iraq, in response to the demands made by the kidnapers of a Filipino citizen in Iraq, after the deadline made by the kidnapers ended on Monday. No response has been made by the kidnapers towards the new attitude of the Filipino government, but the Iraqi government expressed its resentment towards this attitude, and said it was worried this situation would lead to an increase the kidnappings. Ayatolla Ali Khamenaei, on his part, accused the agents of Israel and the United States in Iraq of kidnapping those hostages, while the head of the Muslim Scholars Committee declared that kidnapping those hostage was not serving the national interests.
|Filipino protestors calling for withdrawal of their troops from Iraq, following threats of killing a kidnapped Filipino hostage if the troops were not withdrawn from Iraq. |
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Yasser AbuMoailek, a journalist and feature writer working for the International Press Center in Gaza Strip. He contributes to many circulations inlcuding the Seoul Times, as well as monitoring the situation in the Middle East, especially the Palestinian territories.