Page 3 of 3   <      

Iraqi Red Crescent Paralyzed by Allegations

Hakki's attorney, Hamid Ibrahim al-Awadi, acknowledged that Hakki sometimes exceeded his authorized spending limits on cash disbursements. But he insisted that the actions were not illegal because they were done only in exigent circumstances and because the accounting office never told him to stop.

Karbouli had been wanted by Iraqi officials since the spring on charges that he used Red Crescent ambulances to transport weapons to the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq. Yet after his arrest by the Interior Ministry, he was taken by FBI agents in Baghdad and then escaped to Jordan, according to a senior Iraqi official. The incident prompted Maliki to cancel a joint task force with the FBI, according to a copy of the order reviewed by The Washington Post.

Karbouli's brother Ahmed said his sibling was innocent but refused to discuss the matter further. A U.S. Embassy spokesman declined to comment on the case.

Hakki visited northern Iraq this month, saying the arrest warrants against him had been dropped and pledging to resign if the Red Crescent did not agree to several demands. On Sept. 15, the agency's leadership rejected his requests. On Monday, the Red Crescent elected Jowan Fuad Masoum, a former minister of communication, as president. But another government official, appointed by Maliki, also claims to be president.

Igeeli, the head of the integrity commission, said that the warrants remain in effect and that he expected the United States would extradite Hakki if he returns to Florida. U.S. officials in Baghdad, who would not speak for attribution, said they would support extradition.

The Iraqi government froze the Red Crescent's assets on July 10. Since then, the organization has stopped funding free medical care for poor Iraqis. Employees were not paid until this month, when some received one month's salary.

"The Iraqi people should not be punished just because the head of the office is accused of corruption," said Awadi, Hakki's attorney. "We can't go on like this. A lot of people need our help."

Staff writer Jeffrey H. Birnbaum in Washington contributed to this report.

<          3

© 2008 The Washington Post Company