Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Aiham Alsammarae: battling Iranians or fleeing Fitz?

Today's Trib says,

Eight months after Aiham Alsammarae escaped from a Baghdad jail and returned to his home in suburban Chicago, an Iraqi judge has thrown the book at him, sentencing the former electricity minister in absentia to 21 years in prison in a corruption case.

Yet Alsammarae, an Oak Brook resident who had gone back to his native Iraq to serve in the government after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, isn't exactly hiding at home. He says he recently returned to the maelstrom of Iraqi politics, traveling to Jordan to join other Iraqi officials in forming an opposition front as he continues to insist on his innocence.

Reached on a Jordanian cell phone, the Iraqi-American dual citizen, 55, said he is in Amman meeting with Iraqi political leaders in an effort to counter what he says is Iranian influence in the Shiite-majority government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, which has been prosecuting him.
While the ST told us a few days ago,
Rezko, 52, is fighting federal charges that he solicited kickbacks from companies seeking state business under Blagojevich. Sources in December told the Sun-Times the feds are investigating Rezko's dealings in Iraq, where Rezko once had a contract from Alsammarae's agency to build a power plant.

Alsammarae, who lives in the Chicago area and was a college classmate of Rezko, is a dual U.S.-Iraqi citizen. He left his post as Iraq's electricity minister in May 2005, about a month after Companion got the contract. Alsammarae was accused of financial corruption by Iraqi authorities and jailed in Iraq last year before escaping and returning here.

Companion's contract called for it to fly 150 Iraqis to the United States for police-type training. Among the subjects: how to shoot AK-47 rifles.

As Frawley sought to revive the contract in spring 2006, Blagojevich's chief of staff, John Harris, directed the state's homeland security adviser, Jill Morgenthaler, to find "a military site for the training of Iraqi police forces,'' Morgenthaler wrote in an April 26, 2006, e-mail. She wrote the letter in June 2006 offering the Savanna site.
Makes you wonder if Alsammarae isn't running from Fitz's questions instead?

Is it too cynical to think Illinois isn't offering training sites for Secuirty Contractors because others feel some day, they may need a spring from the joint, doing it the Chicago Way?

Update: from the NYT story in Dec on the escape,
Mr. Alsammarae shed little direct light on the two leading theories of how he escaped: either with the help of a mysterious Western private security firm that appeared at the station on Sunday, or with the complicity of the Iraqi police.

“I don’t like to harm these people who helped me,” he said.

Despite the charges against him, Mr. Alsammarae said he did not believe that the American authorities would arrest him in Chicago. “I hope they are smarter than that,” he said.

xp Prairie State Blue


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