Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Iraqi Leader Was Jesuit Educated In Baghdad, At Baghdad College

The following are excerpts from the book Soldiers of Reason:
Back when neoconservatives ruled Washington (was it really just five years ago?), some conservative observers compared the controversial Iraqi banker-politician Ahmed Chalabi to George Washington. As head of the largest Iraqi exile group, The Iraqi National Congress, he had convinced the Bush administration that invading Iraq would be a cakewalk, that invading Americans would be greeted as liberators, not conquerors. Under Secretary of Defense Douglas Feith, former Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle, Vice President Dick Cheney, President Bush, all saw Chalabi as the man who would be hailed as the founding father of his country.....

The scion of an ancient Iraqi family, Chalabi was a precocious child, regularly skipping grades in the Jesuit school (Baghdad College) he attended in central Baghdad. After King Faisal II was assassinated and his government deposed in 1958, Chalabi's family fled Iraq, losing most of its fortune. Chalabi, then twelve years old, went to boarding school in England.

He finished his studies in America, earning undergraduate and master's degrees in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also earned a Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of Chicago at the same time Wohlstetter was teaching there, although according to Chalabi they did not meet then. In 1977, at the invitation of Crown Prince Hassan of Jordan, Chalabi moved to Amman; there he founded the Petra Bank, which soon became the country's second-largest financial institution. He befriended the royal family of the small (interesting) Hashemite kingdom; he lived in an opulent villa filled with modern art, and his children rode horses with the king's family. The pain of exile was mitigated by his growing wealth, yet by 1989 Chalabi was fleeing Jordan to London with his wife and four children, accused of causing the collapse of his own bank. In 1992 a Jordanian court found him guilty in absentia of thirty-one charges, including embezzlement, forgery, and theft; it sentenced him to twenty-two years of hard labor and ordered restitution of $70 million.

Picture is of King Fiasal II visiting Baghdad College

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