Iraqi Security Forces Raid Sunni Lawmaker's Home; He Claims It Was Robbery

Sunday, March 18th 2007, 5:43 pm
By: News On 6

BAGHDAD (AP) _ Iraqi security forces raided the home of a prominent Sunni lawmaker earlier this month, seizing four vehicles and weapons and detaining seven suspects, an Iraqi military spokesman said Sunday.

The legislator, Dhafer al-Ani, said he was robbed by security forces and his personal guards had been tortured in detention.

Al-Ani, a frequent critic of the Shiite-led government, is a hard-line member of the Iraqi Accordance Front, the largest Sunni bloc in the 275-member Parliament with 44 seats.

Last month, shortly after the Baghdad security crackdown began, Al-Ani said in a television interview that the operation had lost the ``element of surprise'' because it was announced long in advance, giving Shiite militiamen time to flee to Iran. He also claimed Shiite militias had provided security forces with some of the names on their wanted list.

Brig. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, the military spokesman, said the cars taken from al-Ani's home in the March 8 raid had traces of explosives on them. He also said six of those detained in the raid were released after 48 hours because there was no evidence to hold them.

The seventh person was still in detention because he allegedly had a sniper rifle, al-Moussawi said at a news conference.

Al-Ani said his house in western Baghdad's Yarmouk neighborhood was raided twice that day and that security forces stole $30,000 and 7.5 million Iraqi dinars, worth about $5,570.

In the first raid, he said, the security detail detained four of his guards and confiscated four cars and licensed firearms. The men returned later and detained two more guards, al-Ani said.

He claimed the six guards were assigned to him by the Iraqi army and police force and had been working with him for a year.

``They were tortured and told they would be killed, before the defense minister intervened. They were found to be innocent ... and released the next day,'' al-Ani said. One of the six is still hospitalized with injuries, he said.

The lawmaker said his nephew was later detained ``as a bargaining chip in exchange for my silence over the theft of the money. The talk about explosives (on the cars) is a baseless lie,'' he said.