U.S., Iraqi Troops Find Weapons Stash In Raid On Sunni Legislator's Home

Sunday, April 8th 2007, 4:36 pm
By: News On 6

BAGHDAD (AP) _ U.S. and Iraqi troops found a huge stash of weapons in a raid on the home of a Sunni lawmaker and detained at least a dozen men for questioning, officials said Sunday.

Brig. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, spokesman for the Baghdad security plan, said the raid targeted a house of legislator Khalaf al-Ilyan _ one of the three leaders of the Iraqi Accordance Front, which holds 44 seats in parliament.

``During the search, we discovered many weapons and explosive materials,'' al-Moussawi said at a news conference. He did not say when the raid took place, but a U.S. military statement said it occurred Tuesday.

Among the weapons found in the house were 33 Kalashnikov rifles, three pistols, one hand grenade, 4.4 pounds of TNT and 13 82-mm mortar rounds, al-Moussawi said.

The U.S. military said eight 57-mm rockets and 5,000 rounds of ammunition were also seized, along with photos of burning British soldiers and American flag-draped coffins. A detailed search revealed buried mortar rounds with new explosive timing and initiation devices.

Al-Ilyan was believed to be in Jordan at the time of the raid, and was unreachable for comment.

Al-Moussawi said troops detained 12 people for questioning. A U.S. military statement put the number of detainees at 14, and said they were al-Ilyan's personal bodyguards.

As a parliament member, al-Ilyan has immunity from prosecution. But al-Moussawi said ``no one is immune when it comes to the law, and if anyone is convicted the person will be detained by security forces.''

Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, a U.S. military spokesman, suggested U.S. officials would not back away from prosecuting a parliament member.

``Anytime we find someone operating outside the law, not following the rules that have been set by this government, they are subject to being detained and arrested,'' Caldwell said.

Last month, Iraqi security forces raided the home of another prominent Sunni lawmaker, Dhafer al-Ani, and seized four vehicles, confiscated weapons and detained seven suspects.