BAGHDAD — A Sunni Arab lawmaker is wanted in connection with a string of retaliation attacks and mortar strikes on the fortresslike Green Zone compound after a pair of his senior bodyguards stepped forward with incriminating confessions, a military official said Sunday.
The two ex-bodyguards said Sunni parliament member Mohammed al-Dayni ordered them to carry out a 2007 attack on a Green Zone cafeteria in which a suicide bomber blew up his explosive vest. One lawmaker died and 22 others were wounded.
"They admitted and confessed to committing many crimes and terrorist attacks against the Iraqi people," Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi said.
Moussawi said Dayni was named by his former bodyguards, one of whom is his nephew, as the architect in executing the Green Zone attacks. Police arrested Riyadh Ibrahim Jassim Hussein al-Dayni, Dayni's nephew, and Alaa Khairallah, his assistant, in connection with the case this month.
As a parliament member, Dayni enjoys immunity. Authorities aren't able to arrest him or any other lawmakers until parliamentarians agree with an absolute majority vote to lift immunity.
Dayni told the Associated Press the allegations were "untrue and baseless" and suggested they were political punishment for standing up to the Shiite-led government.
The revelation of Dayni's alleged ties to the attacks could exacerbate tensions between Sunni and Shiite parliament members.
On Sunday, some lawmakers welcomed the authorities' issuing the arrest warrant for Dayni.
"Today we are so happy because 10,000 people have been victims of this guy," said Taha Dria, a member of the Shiite Alliance in parliament. "He misused his position and he harmed the parliament and he betrayed his oath."
Dayni is a prominent member of the National Dialogue Front, a Sunni-led political party. Mohammed Awad, the lawmaker who died in the 2007 Green Zone attack, belonged to the party.
In a taped confession, Dayni's nephew described how he carried out the dirty work for his uncle, picking up roadside explosives, robbing gold merchants and firing off mortar shells with an accomplice at the Green Zone. The 5.6-square-mile compound houses the Iraqi parliament, the U.S. Embassy and other government offices.
He also confessed that a suicide bomber used Dayni's Green Zone badge to clear the compound's numerous security checkpoints to carry out the bombing of the parliament cafeteria, where lawmakers meet for lunch.
The incident highlighted how even the most heavily guarded base in Iraq — then under U.S. military control — was still vulnerable to attacks.