U.S. troops and Iraqi police Thursday raided the home and political party offices of Ahmad Chalabi, a member of the U.S. appointed governing council in Iraq and a longtime favorite of the high-level administration officials.
U.S. officials offered no explanation for the action, during which boxes and computers were reportedly loaded into vehicles and hauled away from Chalabi's home and from the offices of his Iraqi National Congress.
Earlier this week, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said the government was cutting off a regular $340,000 per month subsidy being paid to Chalabi's INC. The decision, Wolfowitz told a congressional committee, "was made in light of the process of transferring sovereignty to the Iraqi people. We felt it was no longer appropriate for us to continue funding in that fashion."
Chalabi, a banker by profession, was funded by the U.S. for years during his exile in London while running an anti-Saddam Hussein campaign in close coordination with the CIA. Chalabi, who provided considerable pre-war intelligence to the U.S. on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, has fallen out of favor recently. He has been increasingly critical of U.S. policy in the country.
By contrast, after the fall of Baghdad ranking officials in the Bush administration had viewed him as a strong candidate to be the new leader of Iraq.
In other developments, two U.S. soldiers were killed and several wounded in separate incidents in Iraq, a military spokesman said on Thursday.
One soldier from the 1st Cavalry Division was killed and three wounded in a grenade attack in Baghdad on Thursday, he said. Another soldier was killed and one wounded when a roadside bomb blasted a convoy in the city of Samarra, 60 miles north of the capital, on Wednesday.
And West of Baghdad Thursday, funerals were being held for some of the 40 people killed by U.S. aerial attacks Wednesday, the Reuters news service reported. Among those buried, said Reuters, were an Iraqi wedding singer and his musician brother who were among the
A cousin of Hussein al-Ali, a well-known singer from Baghdad, and of his musician brother Mohaned told Reuters they had been killed while sleeping after the wedding, at which they had performed.
"America is the enemy of God," mourners chanted as they carried the two men's coffins in their funeral procession in the capital. Some fired guns into the air and others hoisted the Saddam Hussein-era Iraqi flag above their heads, Reuters reported.
U.S. ground forces and aircraft attacked a village in Iraq's western desert before dawn Wednesday, striking what Iraqi witnesses said was a wedding celebration but U.S. officials called a way station for foreign infiltrators. More than 40 civilians, most of them women and children, were killed, according to witnesses, Iraqi police officers and provincial health officials.
U.S. officials acknowledged that their troops attacked in the area, saying they were responding to hostile fire. They later recovered weapons, large amounts of cash and other evidence of an insurgent supply route, officials said.
The attack on the village of Makr al-Deeb occurred at about 2:45 a.m. in the desert region near the border with Syria, the deputy police chief of the city of Ramadi, Lt. Col. Ziyad Jabouri, told the Associated Press.