35 Key Iraqi Officials Arrested Over Rumored Coup Plot

Interior Ministry Officials Reportedly Sought to Reconstitute Ba'ath Party

by Jason Ditz, December 17, 2008

Updated 12/18 11:30 AM EST

35 high ranking members of Iraq’s Interior Ministry have been arrested over the past three days, including Director of Internal Affairs General Ahmed Abu Raqeef and three others generals. The arrests were coordinated through Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s counterterrorism force.

Top security officials say there is significant evidence that those arrested were linked to Al-Awda, the remnant of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Party. The arrests netted “huge amounts of cash,” according to an unnamed Interior Ministry official, who said the party had been bribing officers to recruit them.

Though there was no official comment from Prime Minister Maliki’s office, one of his advisers alleged that those arrested were involved in a “conspiracy,” amid rumors of a coup. MP Abbas al-Bayati denied there was a coup plot however, saying the arrests were simply on the basis of their membership in a “banned” party.

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