A jihadist with American blood on his hands may soon go free, the New York Times reports.
U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Robert S. Beecroft has been ordered to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in an 11th-hour effort to dissuade Baghdad from releasing Ali Mussa Daqduq, who military officials say orchestrated a Jan. 20, 2007 ambush in Karbala. Five U.S. soldiers were attacked and killed by terrorists disguised as American troops.
In May, Daqduq was acquitted by an Iraqi court despite ample evidence of evidence of his guilt. As the Wall Street Journal noted Tuesday, the Obama administration could have taken Daqduq out of Iraq when U.S. troops left the country last December.
But the administration did not want to add prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and feared that the political left would label Daqduq's transfer an extralegal "rendition." So Washington turned him over to Iraqi authorities.
"Daqduq should be held accountable for his crimes. Period," read administration talking points approved in May by Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough. "While we strongly oppose his acquittal, protections for the accused are built into all judicial systems, including our own. We transferred Daqduq to Iraqi custody out of respect for, and obligation to, the rule of law in Iraq."
When al-Maliki visited the White House in December, President Obama urged him not to release Daqduq. In June, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta claimed Baghdad had provided assurances that it wouldn't free him. But the New York Times reports that Iraqi diplomats have a very different spin forward: that they wanted to mollify the Obama administration by keeping Daqduq in custody until the 2012 election was over.
A Lebanese citizen and former member of a special Hizballah unit charged with protecting the terror group's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, Daqduq was dispatched to Iraq in 2005 and instructed to work with the Quds Force, an elite unit of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
He trained members of Iraqi Special Groups – Iranian-backed jihadists targeting American troops and working to destabilize the country. Daqduq was charged with training of these groups in kidnapping; manufacturing improvised explosive devices; and using rockets and mortars.
Daqduq's release would mark the second jihadist let go despite being involved in the 2007 atack on the American troops. Qais Khazali was freed by the U.S. military in 2009 in exchange for a British hostage. Two days after the Sept. 11 Benghazi terrorist attack that killed four Americans, Khazali threatened to attack U.S. interests over a movie trailer.