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Iraqi elections: Why one candidate says he faces a US death threat

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"He's in Iran for a very good reason, which is ... if he ever set foot in Iraq and we knew it, we would have grabbed him in a heartbeat," said a former senior U.S. official with knowledge of the case against Mohandas, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

"He was directly implicated in attacks on Americans. I found the evidence to be totally compelling," the official added.

His responses to US accusations

In the telephone interview, Mohandas called the U.S. claims against him "absurd" and "ridiculous." Still, he takes the allegations so seriously that he's not quite ready to return to Iraq, even though his parliamentary immunity and an American-Iraqi security pact that requires the U.S. to obtain official Iraqi permission for arrests would offer him some measure of protection.

"I might return" after the election, Mohandas said. "I've lived through dangers before and have escaped death dozens of times."

Mohandas responded at length to specific allegations against him:

_ He denied involvement in the 1983 plot to bomb foreign embassies in Kuwait, where he was working as an engineer at the time. He said Kuwaiti security forces rounded up hundreds of innocent Iraqis in the aftermath and that he fled as soon as he was named a suspect because he didn't think that he could get a fair trial in that political climate. He was convicted in absentia; a spokesman for the Kuwaiti embassy in Washington said he didn't know whether the conviction still stood.

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