Who is Ahmet Chalabi?
Jude Wanniski
April 25, 2004


Memo To: Website Fans, Browsers, Clients
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: The Administration's Man in Iraq

If you want to know the chief source of all the baloney that led President Bush to decide to go to war with Iraq in January of 2003 (no matter what the UN inspectors found in the next two months), you have to look to Richard Perle, the mastermind whose puppets include Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Condoleezza Rice. But Perle could not have gotten anywhere if he did not have an Iraqi source of "slam dunk" intelligence on the evils of the Saddam Hussein regime in Baghdad.

Peel away this onion and at the core we find Ahmet Chalabi. Even today, with all the White House talk of turning sovereignty over to the Iraqis, there remains a hardcore determination by the warhawks to get their man in a key position, where he can exercise sufficient control to make the "democratically elected government of Iraq" in 2005 an instrument of their desires. The piece I append comes from an American "alternative" journalist who is outside the mainstream. (Check him out on Google if you wish.) I can vouch for its authenticity. He is exactly right in linking Chalabi to the late Albert Wohlstetter, who was the primary idea-man behind what is now the Perle Cabal. Of course I like to think that President Bush does not know much about Chalabi and his "checkered past," but he will be learning more as time goes on.

[One thing Mr. Bush will eventually learn is that the Iraqis who gathered around the statue of Saddam Hussein last year and got the US military to pull it down were Chalabi's men, one thousand strong, flown in at US taxpayer expense to show the world that Iraqis were deliriously happy to be rid of Saddam and now ruled by Chalabi.]

By Christopher Bollyn

When Gen. Abdul Karim Qasim ousted the Iraqi monarchy of King Faisal II in July 1958, many Iraqis, like the family of Ahmed Chalabi, which had enjoyed close ties with the monarchy, were forced to flee the country.

Today, Chalabi is the man behind the self-declared government that has come to power in Baghdad.

Chalabi, a non-practising Shia, is reportedly a close friend of the late Shah of Iran, the former Crown Prince Hassan of Jordan and Col. Oliver North of the Reagan Administration, according to a recent paper on Chalabi for the South Asia Analysis Group titled "Ahmed Chalabi: The Janos Kadar of Iraq" by B. Raman, a Indian intelligence expert.

The head of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), Chalabi comes from an aristocratic Shiite family that was connected to the monarchy of Faisal. The Iraqi monarchy had been installed by the British when they created the Iraqi state after the first World War.

Chalabi's father was a member of the Faisal's Council of Ministers and president of the senate nominated by Faisal and set up to provide the Iraqi monarchy with a democratic facade.

The Chalabi family fled to Jordan when King Faisal II was overthrown in 1958 by Qasim's group of army officers who had allegedly acted in collusion with the Iraqi Communist Party.

Years later, Chalabi amassed a great deal of wealth as a banker in Jordan. However, in 1989, Chalabi was found guilty of embezzlement and fraud in a military court in Jordan and was sentenced to 22 years. Chalabi reportedly fled Jordan in the trunk of a car with over $20 million.

It was alleged that during his association with the bank Chalabi embezzled nearly $70 million and stashed it in secret Swiss bank accounts.

The financial improprieties that Chalabi was found to have been directly involved in led to the collapse the Jordanian bank he directed, Petra Bank.

At the time of its crash, Petra was the third-largest bank in Jordan, and the Jordanian government was forced to pay out $200 million to depositors who faced the loss of their savings.

In 1992, Mr Chalabi was tried in absentia and sentenced by a Jordanian court to 22 years jail on 31 charges of embezzlement, theft, misuse of depositor funds and currency speculation.

A report by Arthur Andersen subsequently found that Chalabi's Petra Bank's assets had been overstated by some $200 million. Many of the bank's bad loans were to Chalabi-linked companies in Switzerland and Lebanon.

A detailed 500-page Technical Committee Report was subsequently compiled for the Jordanian military attorney-general on June 10, 1990.

In the report Chalabi was named as being the man at Petra Bank who was directly responsible for "fictitious deposits and entries to make the income ... appear larger."

To this day, Chalabi insists that the charges were politically charged and the fact that there has never been formal extradition attempts prove the case was not genuine.

Chalabi is considered by experts to be a long-time collaborator with the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at the Pentagon.

After fleeing Jordan, Chalabi went to Europe and founded the INC in 1992 at a meeting of some anti-Saddam Hussein exiles held in Vienna, Austria. James Woolsey, who became the Director of the CIA under President Bill Clinton, made Chalabi's INC the cutting-edge of the CIA's operations against Saddam Hussein. Chalabi allegedly became Woolsey's blue-eyed boy and the INC became the most favored recipient of CIA funds meant for the overthrow of Saddam, according to Raman.

In the 1980s, when he was associated with the Petra Bank, Chalabi, who was allegedly helping the Mossad, the Israeli external intelligence agency, used to visit Israel secretly.

During those visits, he became close to the late Albert Wohlstetter, who is reputed to be "a godfather of the neoconservative movement in the US," according to Raman.

Chalabi had met Wohlstetter during his student days at the University of Chicago, Raman wrote, but the friendship became close only after their meetings in Israel. Through Wohlstetter, Chalabi became acquainted with Richard Perle, who was Under-Secretary of Defence for international-security policy under President Reagan, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, both of whom served under President Ronald Reagan.

Perle, as chief of the Defence Policy Advisory Board, has been a strong supporter of Chalabi, but the CIA and the State Department have serious reservations about him.

Chalabi's criminal past notwithstanding, Chalabi is today being presented as the possible head of an interim Iraqi authority to provide an Iraqi face for what is likely to become an extended U.S. military occupation of Iraq.

"He is tipped to occupy an important post in the US occupation regime in Baghdad to create a new Iraqi intelligence agency, which would be loyal to the USA and protect its national interests," Raman wrote.

On April 16, two close associates of Chalabi said they had been elected mayor and governor of Baghdad by tribal and religious chiefs acting with the consent of the U.S. government.

INC General Jaudat Obeidi who, prior to his return to Iraq, had reportedly lived in exile in Oregon claimed he had been selected mayor of Baghdad. And, with a massive media entourage, Mohammed Mohsen Zubeidi, proclaimed himself governor of a new interim administration for Baghdad.

A spokesman for the U.S. Marines in Baghdad denied that the United States has recognized anyone to head up a new Iraqi government.