Unconventional thinking about the Middle East.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Chalabi Hat Trick: American Spy, Iranian Spy, and Ba'athist Spy?

Documents purporting to show cooperation between Ahmad Chalabi and Saddam’s mukhaberat were highlighted in Elaph today. Usama Mahdi, the Elaph correspondent in London, sources the documents to Jordan’s “Al-Malaf-Net”. His story also carries a denial by an Iraqi National Congress spokesman who speculates that these documents are forgeries.

I’ve seen them before and they are genuine, but they don’t reveal Chalabi as a sleeper agent for Saddam. The ones that deal with the late 1980s refer to two incidents: the first was a 50 Jordanian Dinar donation to the war effort against Iran that the Iraqi Embassy in Amman had solicited and received from Chalabi’s secretary, and the other to several trucks donated by Petra Bank to the reconstruction effort after the war.

The other batch from the mid-1990s and later cover Chalabi in his role as an opposition figure, and mostly revolve around the mukhaberat’s habit of pressing relatives into making contact with someone involved in activities against the regime, and then beseeching them to stop.

Did Chalabi feed Saddam bad intelligence, too?

The original master file from the mukhaberat about Chalabi is in Chalabi’s possession. But the regime used to keep copies of some paperwork stashed around in other related dossiers that may have ended-up in the possession of a variety of parties after the mukhaberat offices were looted. Sorry folks, nothing nefarious here; just the sad fact of 'collateral damage' done to relatives of those who stood up to Saddam.

The timing of this leak is interesting: someone is worried that Chalabi would use his own arsenal of Saddam’s archival treasures to expose opposing candidates. Mr. Mahdi of Elaph (a former editor at the INC's newspaper and whose full name is Usama Abdel-Hadi Mahdi Al-Salihi—I’ve seen his mukhaberat file…clean) has been tilting his reporting towards wealthier election campaigns. It would be interesting to see who put him up to this, and if Chalabi’s people would retaliate with dishing all sorts of dirt.

The electioneering is already getting pretty dirty from what I hear, and we can all expect more drama to come.


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