Lawmaker linked to attacks, Iraqi authorities say

Iraqi lawmaker Mohammed al-Daini, seen here in November, denies the allegations.
Iraqi authorities Sunday linked a Sunni Arab lawmaker to a series of attacks and insurgent plots, including an April 2007 bombing that killed two of his own colleagues.

The lawmaker, Mohammed al-Daini, denied the allegations in a televised statement and accused the government of “political blackmail.” But an Iraqi military spokesman showed videotaped statements from al-Daini’s bodyguards that appeared to implicate him in the plots. Al-Daini is a member of the Sunni-led National Dialogue Front, which holds 11 seats in Iraq’s 275-member parliament. The party is led by Saleh Mutlaq, an outspoken critic of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s Shiite-dominated government. Though Iraqi lawmakers have immunity from prosecution, security forces tried to arrest al-Daini at the Al-Rashid Hotel in Baghdad’s Green Zone on Sunday, a hotel official told CNN. Al-Daini was not at the hotel so no arrest was made. Maj. Gen. Qassim Atta, a military spokesman in Baghdad, said officials were following Iraqi legal processes in attempting the arrest. “We contacted the Iraqi judicial authority and the parliament regarding this issue,” he said. Atta played video of al-Daini’s bodyguards for reporters at a news conference Sunday. In the video, the men said the lawmaker ordered them to stash explosive belts and improvised explosive devices in his office, and they said they helped the perpetrator of the April 2007 parliament bombing obtain access to the building using al-Daini’s parliamentary credentials. The bombing killed eight people, including two of al-Daini’s fellow members of parliament.

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On the video, the bodyguards also confessed to carrying out a mortar attack on the Green Zone — the fortified Baghdad district that houses Iraqi government offices and the U.S. Embassy — and to robbing a jewelry shop in the city’s Mansour district. Al-Daini appeared on the Dubai-based satellite network al-Sharqiya to rebut accusations linking him to any of the actions, calling the arrests of his bodyguards a “politically motivated” act by Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government. “The goal behind this is to put pressure on me, and it is a political blackmailing,” he said.