- The Washington Times - Friday, February 23, 2007

12:52 p.m.

BAGHDAD — U.S. troops detained the son of Iraq’s most powerful Shiite politician today as he returned to the country from Iran, keeping him in custody for nearly 12 hours before releasing him, Shiite officials said.

Amar al-Hakim, son of political leader Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, was taken into custody at a crossing point and was transferred to a U.S. facility in Kut, according to the elder Mr. al-Hakim’s secretary, Jamal al-Sagheer.

Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim is leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), the country’s largest Shi’ite party, with longtime ties to Iran. He met with President Bush at the White House in December, and his party is part of the Shi’ite alliance that includes Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

U.S. authorities have complained about Iranian weapons sales and financial aid to major Shi’ite parties in Iraq, especially the Mahdi Army of radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Security guards accompanying the younger Mr. al-Hakim also were detained at the Zirbatya crossing point, Mr. al-Sagheer said.

U.S. spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Garver said he was looking into the report.

Amar al-Hakim heads a charity dedicated to the memory of his uncle, Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, who was killed along with scores of others in a car bombing in Najaf in August 2003. Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim took over SCIRI after his older brother died.

A Shi’ite lawmaker close to Mr. al-Hakim, Hameed Moalah, said Amar al-Hakim was detained at 9 a.m. on the Iranian border.

“We have made urgent contacts with the offices of the president and the prime minister as well as the Americans. The Americans told us the detention was a mistake that will be rectified, but nothing happened until now,” Mr. Moalah said.

He later told SCIRI’s Al-Forat television that the U.S. troops assaulted Mr. al-Hakim’s bodyguards, but he gave no details.

Also today, police said a suspected al Qaeda-linked insurgent leader accused of financing attacks and recruiting fighters was captured in southern Iraq.

Issa Abdul-Razzaq Ahmed, who was detained during a raid yesterday on a house in central Basra, has been traveling to neighboring countries to collect funds for militant operations in Iraq, provincial police commander Gen. Mohammed al-Moussawi said.

He also said the suspect, a 22-year-old Sunni, was on the Interior Ministry’s most-wanted list and was accused of being a major figure in recruiting fighters. Police also found lists with the names of other wanted militants, maps and propaganda CDs.

The U.S. military said three U.S. soldiers were killed yesterday in combat in volatile Anbar province but did not give specific locations or circumstances for the deaths.

Col. Garver also said the military was investigating reports of civilian casualties during intense fighting between American troops and Sunni insurgents in Anbar province’s capital of Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a top al-Sadr aide has been released from U.S. custody after five months, an al-Sadr official said.

Salah al-Obeidi, a spokesman for Sheik al-Sadr, was freed Wednesday, the official said. Al-Obeidi and another member of Sheik al-Sadr’s inner circle, Muayed al-Khazraji, were taken in a raid in September by U.S. and Iraqi forces.

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