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Chalabi's Baghdad compound raided

Pentagon: Photo disproves 'wedding' attack claim


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Conflicting reports surround airstrike that killed dozens of Iraqis.

Iraqi witnesses said planes fired on a wedding celebration.

Future courts-martial expected to reveal more prisoner abuse.

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraqi Governing Council member Ahmed Chalabi said a raid on his compound Thursday was engineered by Baathists who control the Iraqi police and who are now protected by the Coalition Provisional Authority.

Senior coalition law enforcement and justice officials said the raid on the compound of the Iraqi National Congress was part of an investigation of "suspected fraud in a government ministry."

Chalabi -- who is head of finance in the Iraqi Governing Council and leader of the INC -- was not named in the warrant.

The United States has evidence a Chalabi associate is an agent of Iranian intelligence, according to senior U.S. officials.

Chalabi is a Shiite political figure who has maintained longtime ties with the leadership in Shia Iran.

Officials have said for some weeks now that they had evidence Chalabi passed intelligence to Iran about U.S. operations in Iraq -- information that, as one official puts it, "could get Americans killed."

Chalabi has strongly denied that allegation.

Iraqi police and U.S. military personnel who conducted Thursday's raid took away computers and documents but arrested no one, Chalabi told reporters at a Baghdad news conference.

Chalabi said the Coalition Provisional Authority is dissatisfied with his demands for Iraq's provisional government to be given full control of the Iraqi army after the June 30 handover and for control of the investigation of fraud in the U.N. oil-for-food program.

"When America treats its friends this way, then they are in big trouble," Chalabi said.

He called Thursday's raid "the penultimate act of failure of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq."

He said his relationship with the authority is now "nonexistent."

When asked about that comment, Coalition Provisional Authority spokesman Dan Senor only noted that Chalabi "worked closely with us over a number of months."

Senor said questions about the raid should be addressed to the Iraqi police. "It was an Iraqi-led investigation, an Iraqi-led raid.

"It was the result of Iraqi arrest warrants," he said.

Chalabi was previously a close adviser to the Pentagon and is regarded as divisive and untrustworthy by the State Department.

The Pentagon recently cut off funds it was regularly supplying to Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress.

He is believed to have been a source of intelligence about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, which have not been discovered in the nine months since Saddam's regime fell.

He was also the champion of a plan to rid Iraq of Baath Party influence that has caused rancor among many Iraqis.(Full story)

Pentagon: No wedding at attack site

The Pentagon is considering the release of videotapes or a still photograph to bolster its contention that a target attacked Wednesday by the U.S. military in western Iraq was not a wedding party, officials told CNN Thursday.

Sources said that a photograph of the area before it was attacked by a U.S. warplane shows several buildings that look like warehouses in a remote desert location.

The site was about 85 km southwest of Husaybah, and 25 km from the Syrian border, officials said previously.

According to a Pentagon official who has seen the photograph, it shows no evidence of any wedding celebration, such as the "wedding tent" mentioned by some Iraqis who told reporters they were guests.

The site was attacked by a U.S. Air Force AC-130 gunship, and the Pentagon may release the video from the plane gun camera, according to the official.

The Pentagon is not disputing that a number of innocent civilians -- including children -- may have been killed in the airstrike, but officials insist there was solid intelligence that the site was being used by "foreign fighters" and was not an innocent gathering of wedding celebrants.

Other developments

  • The main police station in Najaf was attacked with mortars and small-arms fire around midnight Thursday by suspected members of the Mehdi militia loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, U.S. military officials said Friday. The U.S. Army base in Najaf also came under attack early Friday, with Salvadoran troops firing in response.
  • A U.S. soldier was killed and another soldier wounded while on a combat patrol near Samarra, about 70 miles north of Baghdad on Wednesday, the U.S military said Thursday. Another soldier died and three were wounded early Thursday in central Baghdad in an attack with a hand grenade, the Coalition Public Information Center said. Two of the wounded attackers were captured and the third escaped, the Army said. Since the start of the war, 795 U.S. troops have died in Iraq -- 580 under hostile circumstances.
  • A Spanish security patrol Thursday came under fire from Iraqi insurgents after it had accompanied Spanish forces leaving Iraq for Kuwait. One soldier was injured in Hamzah, according to the Spanish Defense Ministry. (Full story)
  • In Washington, the chief of U.S. forces in the Middle East told a Senate panel Wednesday there was no pattern of prisoner abuse by American troops. But Gen. John Abizaid said preliminary findings by the Army's inspector general cite problems in training and organization and recommend "very specific changes." (Full story)
  • CNN's Kevin Flower and Jamie McIntyre contributed to this report.


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