KUT, Iraq, (Reuters) – U.S. troops detained the eldest son of Iraq’s powerful Shi’ite politician Abdul Aziz Hakim at a border checkpoint with Iran on Friday, Iraqi security force officials told Reuters.
The U.S. military said it was checking the report.
Ammar Hakim’s convoy was stopped at the Badrah checkpoint in Wasit province as he returned from Iran, they said. It was not immediately clear why he had been detained. The Iraqi security sources said U.S. forces had taken him to forward operating base Delta, a U.S. camp in nearby Kut, capital of Wasit province.
Ammar’s father is leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), the biggest party in Shi’ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s national unity cabinet. He held talks with U.S. President George W. Bush at the White House last December on how to curb sectarian violence in the country.
Ammar Hakim is an influential member of the ruling Shi’ite Alliance in his own right and is secretary general of a humanitarian charity set up by SCIRI.
A colonel in the Iraqi border guards based in Kut said he was arrested by U.S. troops at gunpoint and handcuffed before being taken away. A colonel in the 8th Division of the Iraqi Army confirmed his arrest.
An aide to a senior SCIRI official sought to play down what had happened, saying: “There was a misunderstanding at an American checkpoint, but now it is over. He was not arrested.” But SCIRI-controlled- Furat television said later that he had been detained.
SCIRI, which has a military wing known as the Badr Organisation, has close links to Shi’ite Islamist Iran. Washington accuses Tehran of fuelling sectarian conflict in Iraq by supplying weapons and training to Shi’ite militias.
U.S. forces have in recent months arrested a number of Iranians in Iraq, including several who were seized at Abdul Aziz Hakim’s compound in Baghdad. They were later released.