Ahmed Chalabi, prominent Iraqi Shiite politician, dies at 71

SHAFAQNA – Prominent Shiite politician Ahmed Abdul Hadi Chalabi, a controversial politician who crusaded in Washington for the ouster of Saddam Hussein but later demanded that  US troops withdraw, died of a heart attack Tuesday. He was 71.

Haitham al-Jabouri, secretary of parliament’s financial panel, which Chalabi had chaired, told news agencies that he was found dead in his bed in his Baghdad home after suffering a heart attack.

Chalabi held many posts in the Iraqi government, including deputy prime minister and oil minister, and was a leading force against the Baath Party of Saddam Hussein. He survived at least one assassination attempt in 2008 that killed six of his bodyguards.

Educated in mathematics at two of America’s most prestigious schools, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and University of Chicago, Chalabi taught as a professor in Beirut before making an unsuccessful foray into banking.

Chalabi spent the years 1992-1996 in the Kurdistan Region trying to topple Saddam with the Iraqi National Council, a group he founded that reportedly received as much as $100 million in funding from Washington.

When the US overthrew the Saddam regime, Chalabi was named one of the 25 members of the Iraqi Governing Council. Under his presidency, the council passes a law that outlawed the Baath party and ostracized its former members in a process that became famous as “de-Baathification.”

Chalabi’s ties with the US were complicated. He attended US president George W Bush’s State of the Union address in 2004 and sat with First Lady Laura Bush. Five months later, however, US forces raided his homes and offices and accused him of passing secret information to Iran, according to the BBC. Chalabi denied the charges.

In 2007, the BBC reports that he was given a post as a mediator between US troops and Baghdad residents in disputes about compensation for damages to homes during security checks.

Chalabi is believed to be survived by his wife Leila, and four children.


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