Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Arrest warrant issued for Sunni minister

BAGHDAD - Iraqi authorities issued an arrest warrant against the Sunni culture minister and raided his home on Tuesday after he was accused of ordering an assassination attempt against a secular Sunni politician more than two years ago, officials said.

Culture Minister Asad Kamal al-Hashimi, who was not home when the raid occurred, was identified by two suspected militants as the mastermind of a Feb. 8, 2005, ambush against then-parliamentary candidate Mithal al-Alusi, according to governmental spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh. Al-Alusi escaped unharmed but two of his sons were killed.

"The two who planned and carried out the killings of Mithal al-Alusi's two sons confessed that they took orders from him," al-Dabbagh said, adding that al-Hashimi was a mosque imam at the time but declining to elaborate further.

Al-Hashimi was the first full Cabinet minister to face arrest, although Iraqi authorities have arrested other senior officials, including the deputy health minister who was linked to Shiite militiamen loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr......

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