Ahmed Chalabi

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Ahmed Chalabi is one of the best known Iraqi opposition figures in the West.

As leader of the one of the foremost opposition movements, the Iraqi National Congress [INC], the 57-year-old former businessman has even been tipped by some analysts as a possible successor to Saddam Hussein.

A Shia Muslim born in 1945 to a wealthy banking family, Mr Chalabi left Iraq in 1956 and has lived mainly in the USA and London ever since, except for a period in the mid-1990's when he tried to organise an uprising in the Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq.

The venture ended in failure with hundreds of deaths. Soon after, the INC was routed from northern Iraq after Saddam's troops overran its base in Irbil. A number of party officials were executed and others - including Mr Chalabi - fled the country.

Chequered career

A seasoned lobbyist in London and Washington, who studied mathematics at Chicago University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mr Chalabi is often described as a controversial figure, charismatic and determined but crafty and cunning at the same time.

  • I am not seeking any positions. My job will end with the liberation of Iraq from Saddam's rule


Mr Chalabi has been accused by some opposition figures of using the INC to further his own ambitions.

There are also allegations of financial misdemeanours. In 1992, he was sentenced in absentia by a Jordanian court to 22 years in prison with hard labour for bank fraud after the 1990 collapse of Petra Bank, which he had founded in 1977.

Although he has always maintained the case was a plot to frame him by Baghdad, the issue was revisited later when the State Department raised questions about the INC's accounting practices.



Viele Gegner kritisieren Chalabi als Mann des "Widerstands mit Mercedes-Limousinen und Fünf-Sterne-Hotels", weil er die Exil-Iraker kontrollieren will, ohne eine eigene Basis in Irak zu haben. Doch seine Rolle in einer zukünftigen Regierung hat nicht nur unter Landsleuten für Streit gesorgt. Auch in der amerikanischen Regierung ist man sich uneinig über den Oppositionsführer, der vor 45 Jahren Irak verlassen hat.