35 Iraqi officials arrested, accused of working to overthrow government
Four generals are among 35 Iraqi officials arrested over the past three days, accused of trying to reconstitute Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, which was abolished after the American invasion in 2003, the New York Times reported.
Some of those arrested in the sweep by an elite counterterrorism unit reporting to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, say officials with the Ministries of the Interior and National Security, were plotting a coup. Gen. Ahmed Abu Raqeef, one of those arrested, is the ministry's internal affairs director.
A month before provincial elections, al-Maliki has been accused by critics of using arrests to maintain power amid rumors of coups and conspiracies as American influence begins to fade. Maliki's office did not give official comment, but one advisor, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that those arrested were involved in a "conspiracy."
An anonymous police officer who knows many of the detainees says otherwise. The arrests, he insisted, were politically motivated, targeting lower-level members of the former Baath Party which he described as "innocent, longstanding civil servants."
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