An Iraqi government minister who previously served as a commander in Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps was among the delegation visiting the White House Monday in a ceremony marking the end of American troops there.
Transportation Minister Hadi Farhan al-Amiri was in the Guard Corps during the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers, an apartment complex housing U.S. soldiers in Saudi Arabia. American law enforcement officials believe the Guard Corps played a role in that attack. The Washington Times reported that al-Amiri was among Iraqi Prime Minister Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's delegation.
Former FBI Director Louis Freeh said agents would like to find out what al-Amiri knew about the Khobar attack that killed 19 U.S. servicemen.
"As a senior leader, [Amiri] would have to have known about Khobar, and he would know Gen. [Ahmad] Sherifi, who was the IRGC general that conducted the operation," Freeh said. The FBI "would love to sit down and talk to him, show him photographs, and ask him questions" about fugitives named in the Khobar Towers indictment.
Meanwhile, with U.S. troops preparing to leave Iraq by New Year's, the Obama administration is trying to decide what to do about Ali Musa Daqduk, who officials say is a Hizballah operative with American blood on his hands. Daqduk – the only detainee currently being held by the U.S. military in Iraq – is allegedly an Iranian agent involved in the planning of a Jan. 20, 2007 attack in Karbala in which five American soldiers were killed. Four of the Americans were captured in an ambush and shot to death, their bodies dumped by the side of a road.
Daqduk, captured two months later by coalition forces in Iraq, was a 24-year veteran of Hizballah who was sent to Iran in 2005 to work with the Quds Force, an elite unit of the Revolutionary Guard. U.S. officials have said that Daqduk made four trips into Iraq to organize underground terror cells.
The question now is whether Daqduk will be turned over to Iraqi custody or transferred outside of Iraq, possibly for trial by military commission at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Obama administration officials indicated a preference for toward transferring him to Iraqi custody. Five Senate Republicans – Charles Grassley of Iowa, Utah's Orrin Hatch, Alabama's Jeff Sessions, John Cornyn of Texas and Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn – sent a letter to the Justice Department urging that Daqduk remain in U.S. custody. They fear that Baghdad could be pressured into making a deal for his release if he were turned over to the Iraqi government.