By Ernesto Londoño
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 24, 2007
BAGHDAD, Feb. 23 -- U.S. forces detained the son of one of Iraq's most prominent Shiite politicians for several hours Friday, a spokesman for the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq said.
The convoy of Amar al-Hakim, one of the sons of party leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, was stopped as Amar was returning from a trip to Iran, Haitham al-Husseini said.
The senior Hakim, whose party controls the largest number of seats in the Iraqi parliament and who met with President Bush during a visit to Washington in December, spent many years in exile in Iran and has close ties to that country. U.S. officials have said Iran has supplied weapons to militias targeting American forces in Iraq.
U.S. Embassy spokesman Lou Fintor said the younger Hakim was detained during a routine security operation.
"We understand Mr. Hakim was arrested by soldiers who were executing their duty at a checkpoint," Fintor said. "He wasn't singled out, but rather we understand the soldiers were following standard procedure," reflecting stepped-up enforcement along Iraq's border with Iran. "Once the facts of the situation were determined, Mr. Hakim was released."
Husseini, the party spokesman, said some of Hakim's bodyguards were asked to lie on the ground while the convoy was searched. "The guards were treated very badly by the U.S. force," he said, adding that some of the guards were members of the Iraqi police and army. "We believe this sends a very wrong message to the whole security process we are trying to assist."
Husseini said the detention appeared to have been a case of mistaken identity, but he said Hakim should not have been kept in custody for several hours.
"He identified himself and had his passport and Iraqi ID," Husseini said. "He's a very well-known figure in Iraq."
U.S. military officials raided the senior Hakim's compound in Baghdad in December and detained two Iranian men, one of whom was described by American officials as a high-ranking officer in an elite Iranian military unit known as the Quds Force. The men were released after appeals by the Iraqi government.
Also on Friday, the U.S. military said in a statement that three American soldiers had been killed Thursday in Anbar province in western Iraq. Their names were not released.
Correspondent Joshua Partlow and special correspondent Naseer Mehdawi contributed to this report.