BAGHDAD, (Reuters) – A member of Iraq’s parliament is in U.S. custody and being questioned after an Iraqi special forces raid on a suspected al Qaeda meeting, the U.S. military said on Thursday.
A spokesman for the Iraqi parliament said the lawmaker was from the assembly’s main Sunni Arab bloc. The man was held after a raid in the Sunni Arab town of Sharqat, 260 km (160 miles) northwest of Baghdad, in volatile Salahuddin province on Sept. 29, the U.S. military said in an email in response to queries from Reuters. “The man being held is one of the 275 members of the Iraqi Council of Representatives,” the military said. “Officially, he is not considered a ‘detainee’ at this time. He is being held for questioning after being found at a suspected al Qaeda in Iraq meeting during a combined Iraqi Security Forces/Coalition operation,” it said.
The military said it would not release the man’s name. It is believed to be the first time a member of Iraq’s parliament has been detained by Iraqi or U.S. forces.
The Iraqi parliament spokesman said Accordance Front member Naif Mohammed Jasim had been taken into custody while he was attending a funeral in Sharqat on Wednesday.
The Accordance front, parliament’s main Sunni Arab bloc, pulled out of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s fractured Shi’ite-led coalition government last month, protesting at what it said was his failure to address their demands for a greater say in government.
Sunni Arabs, politically dominant under Saddam Hussein, accuse Maliki’s government of marginalising them and want faster progress on reconciliation legislation, including a law to allow former members of Saddam’s Baath party back into public life.