U.S. cites corruption in Iraqi government

Monday, August 23, 2004

BAGHDAD The United States is monitoring high-level corruption in Iraqi new government.

U.S. officials said an unspecified number of senior Iraqi government representatives and security commanders, outside of Baghdad, were believed to have exploited their offices for criminal activities. The U.S. officials said the Iraqis were suspected of taking bribes and allowing smuggling and insurgency operations in their districts.

So far, officials said, no Iraqi minister has been suspected or charged with corruption. But they said that over the next few weeks, the interim government of Prime Minister Imad Alawi could detain a range of senior officials outside Baghdad on suspicion of criminal offenses.

On Aug. 21, U.S. forces captured Maj. Gen. Jaadan Mohammed Alwan, the police chief of the Anbar province along the Iraqi border with Syria, Middle East Newsline reported.

The United States was authorized by the Alawi government to begin detaining the suspected Iraqi officials and commanders. Officials said Iraqi security forces were often controlled by the suspects and thus were not deemed reliable.

Officials said Alwan was accused of corruption and other criminal activity.

A U.S. military statement said Alwan's suspected activities included extortion, embezzlement and accepting bribes. The statement said Alwan was also connected to abduction and murder.

Alwan was regarded as one of the most senior Iraqi officials charged with corruption. He was meant to be replaced by an interim chief appointed by the governor of Anbar.

Anbar has been cited as a major smuggling route of weapons and insurgents from Syria into Iraq. The U.S. military has sought to block the route but has been hampered by what officials termed widespread Iraqi cooperation with the Syrians as well as Arab volunteers.

The U.S. military has also reported the arrest of Brig. Gen. Jaadan Kbeisi, police director in Ramadi, west of Baghdad. Kbeisi was the target of protests by police commanders, who threatened to resign if Kbeisi continued in his post. The military did not cite the reason for Kbeisi's arrest.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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