BAGHDAD: Iraq's Interior Minister Falah Al Naquib said yesterday there was no arrest warrant for Ahmed Chalabi after the country's defence minister warned the maverick politician would be jailed for slandering the government.
"I didn't receive any warrants of this sort," Naquib said.
The denial of a warrant came after Defence Minister Hazem Al Shaalan said the Baghdad government would shortly arrest one-time Pentagon favourite Chalabi for staining his ministry's reputation.
"We will arrest him and hand him to Interpol... He sought to tarnish (the image) of the defence ministry and... the reputation of the defence minister," Shaalan had told Al Jazeera television.
Shaalan did not say how Chalabi had tried to defame him, but a spokesman for Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress told Al Jazeera the outburst dealt with allegations Chalabi made about the secret transfer of millions of dollars out of the country. Shaalan's comments put an unwanted spotlight on the financial dealings of Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's government, raising questions about its conduct.
Adding fuel to the fire, The New York Times reported that Allawi, Shaalan and a small circle of council members sent $300 million (BD113.4m) to a bank in Lebanon last week.
Iraqi officials told the Times the money had been sent out to buy tanks and other weapons from arms dealers for the Iraqi army, but the covert nature of the deal had raised eyebrows.
Airport to be closed
BAGHDAD: Interior Minister Falah Al Naquib yesterday announced an expanded curfew in certain Iraqi cities, declared the closure of Baghdad's airport and unveiled a list of some of Iraq's most wanted criminals.
Naquib announced the measures seven days ahead of the first free parliamentary elections in half-a-century as he predicted a surge in violence in the run up to the poll date.
As part of the security measures, Naquib said the Baghdad international airport would be shut from January 29 to 30. The move comes on top of plans for a three-day closure of the border also starting on January 29.
Denial over murder victim
STOCKHOLM: Sweden denied yesterday a claim by an Iraqi militant group that it had killed a Swede in the city of Beiji, saying the victim was most likely Iraqi.
The Army of Ansar Al Sunna said it had abducted and killed a Swede and a Briton in the central Iraqi city, according to a statement posted on an Islamist web site on Thursday.