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Newsmaker: Ahmad Chalabi

Ahmad Chalabi returned to Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq just ahead of the U.S.-led military attack on Iraq. He has now gone into southern territories accompanied by his own military-style brigade, saying he had come to help the United States p...

Ahmad Chalabi returned to Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq just ahead of the U.S.-led military attack on Iraq. He has now gone into southern territories accompanied by his own military-style brigade, saying he had come to help the United States pacify and rebuild Iraq.

Early years: Chalabi was born in 1945 to a wealthy Shiite Muslim family. He fled Iraq in 1958 when the Hashemite monarchy was overthrown. He has degrees in mathematics from Chicago University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Career: Chalabi was a mathematics professor at the American University in Beirut until 1977. He was chairman of the Petra Bank in Jordan, but left Jordan when he was accused of fraud. Though he maintains his innocence, saying the Iraqis were responsible for the alleged fraud, he was convicted in his absence by a Jordanian court.

Chalabi became involved in Iraqi opposition activities shortly before the 1991 Gulf War. After the war, Chalabi formed the London-based Iraqi National Congress to try to unite the sharply divided Iraqi opposition in an attempt to topple Saddam Hussein. A highly controversial figure, Chalabi is charismatic and determined, though many also regard him as domineering. Since he left Jordan, Chalabi has lived in London and is now a British citizen.

Chalabi has been credited with alerting the West to Iraq's alleged buildup of weapons of mass destruction. His opponents say he is completely unknown to Iraqis inside Iraq.

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Family: Chalabi is married with four children.

In his words: (Of the Iraqi National Congress) "This movement is encompassing all Iraqi forces who will rebuild a new, free and energetic Iraq."

Web link: www.masnet.org/newsviews

Compiled by Carol Bradley Bursack

Sources: Associated Press, Iraqinews.com, Muslim American Society, Timesonline.co.uk

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