Identity of Iraqi legislator probed

Parliament member has same name as convicted terrorist

February 07, 2007|By Tina Susman | Tina Susman,LOS ANGELES TIMES

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- U.S. officials said yesterday that they are working with the Iraqi government to determine whether a member of parliament was a convicted terrorist who had been sentenced to death in Kuwait for bombing the U.S. and French embassies there in 1983.

The legislator, Jamal Jaafar Mohammed, was elected in December 2005 to represent Babil, a province south of Baghdad. Sheikh Dhiauddin Fayadh, another legislator, said Mohammed was not aligned with a particular political party and had not been seen since late December.

Iraqi officials refused to discuss the case, but U.S. officials in Baghdad and Washington acknowledged there were suspicions surrounding Mohammed and said they were working with Iraq to determine whether he was the same man convicted in Kuwait.

The Kuwait bombings hit the U.S. and French embassies, along with several other targets, leaving at least seven people dead. An Iraqi Shiite Muslim by the name of Jamal Jaafar Mohammed was among those convicted and sentenced to death in absentia. He had fled before his trial.

"We are actively investigating these serious allegations and continue to be in close contact with the government of Iraq to pursue this case," said Lou Fintor, the U.S. Embassy spokesman in Baghdad.

A U.S. counter-terrorism official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to discuss such matters, said U.S. diplomats had broached the subject with Iraqi leaders and notified them of their concerns about Mohammed. "The sense I've got is that this is something that has been known, that there have been suspicions about this guy," the official said.

Ultimately, he said, the Iraqi government would have to decide how to deal with Mohammed.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told CNN in an interview yesterday that he would not let his government "be a shelter for outlaws and wanted people."

Tina Susman writes for the Los Angeles Times.

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