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Chalabi: Saddam organizing attacks

Ahmed Chalabi meets with U.S. civil administrator L. Paul Bremer on May 16.
Ahmed Chalabi meets with U.S. civil administrator L. Paul Bremer on May 16.

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ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Saddam Hussein is in Iraq and is organizing attacks on the U.S.-led coalition, the leader of the Iraqi National Congress said Thursday.

Ahmed Chalabi, who has long run the INC, which opposed Saddam's regime, also said he believes France and Germany will "see their way clearly to apologizing to the Iraqi people" for trying to prevent the U.S.-led war that ousted Saddam and liberated Iraq.

Chalabi, who fled Iraq in 1958, returned after the toppling of Saddam's regime.

In a satellite news conference Thursday with journalists from around the world attending CNN's World Report conference in Atlanta, Chalabi said the attacks on U.S. troops -- including deadly attacks in the past week -- are "taking place directly, I believe, as an action of the Baathists."

"Saddam did not have a serious military plan to confront the coalition, but he had a serious post-defeat plan which he's putting into operation," Chalabi said.

Saddam has a great deal of money to finance the operation, Chalabi said, referring to a report that $1.3 billion was taken from the country's central bank in March.

"Saddam is still alive and he's still in Iraq. He's renewing his network," Chalabi said.

U.S. officials have said they do not know where Saddam is or whether he is alive.

But Chalabi said Saddam is working with supporters, though not the familiar figures who played public roles in running his regime.

"They're trying their best to foment discontent," he said. "And, unfortunately, some Arab media have been fanning the flames."

Iraqis, he said, "deplore and condemn violence against U.S. and other coalition soldiers who have come to help us liberate our country ... and I believe the Iraqi people are determined not to let this intent of Saddam prevail."

Chalabi said Iraqis are helping to track down Saddam and other members of his regime.

He criticized the United Nations, complaining that "one of the most disappointing things about our struggle is they did not pass a resolution establishing an international criminal court for Iraq as they did for the former Yugoslavia."

Saddam, his sons and others should be tried in an Iraqi court with international observers, Chalabi said.

When asked about France and Germany, two U.N. Security Council members that vocally opposed the war, Chalabi said, "They should first look with great detail in the mass graves of the Iraqi people -- and there are hundreds of thousands. ...

"Once they have seen this and once they are cognizant of the horrors, I think they will see their way clear to apologizing to the Iraqi people for trying to prevent President Bush from helping liberate Iraq."

He continued: "I believe many civilized countries in the world either silently or actively participated in keeping this horror away from their public opinion and away from the world. ...

"We will deal with France and Germany. French and Germans are friends of ours and we hope to work with them in the future."

Chalabi rejected suggestions that his longtime opposition group, supported by the United States, is a virtual puppet for Washington.

He argued instead that his group has criticized some U.S. actions more strongly than Arab governments, many of which he said have leaders that maintain their posts "because the United States props them up."

Chalabi, whose name has been floated as a possible future leader of Iraq, repeated his previous assertions that he would not seek a political post in Iraq's new government.

"I believe the most important thing I can do for the future of my country is to take part in the building of civil society from outside the government," he said.


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