Looming U.S.-Iraqi Row Over Decision to Release Hizballah Commander
An Iraqi court’s decision to release an indicted senior Hizballah figure could lead to more terrorist attacks on Americans.
Last week, the Iraqi Central Criminal Court rejected Washington’s formal request to extradite Hizballah commander Ali Musa Daqduq to the United States to face charges of murder, terrorism, spying, and other offenses filed by a U.S. military commission. Iraqi courts had dropped similar charges against him on May 29 and then again on June 25 when the decision was appealed, seemingly giving the central court cause to reject the extradition request and approve his release. “It is not possible to hand him over because the charges were dropped in the same case,” the judges ruled. But the cases are not the same, and the ruling means Baghdad could soon release one of the most senior and dangerous Hizballah commanders ever apprehended. In the words of one former CIA officer, Daqduq is “the worst of the worst. He has American blood on his hands. If released, he’ll go back to shedding more of it.”
BACKGROUND: ATTACK IN KARBALA
In the early evening of January 20, 2007, American and Iraqi military officers met at the Provincial Joint Coordination Center in Karbala, about thirty miles south of Baghdad, to discuss local security operations. A short time later, a convoy of five black SUVs was waved through three checkpoints and allowed to access the base; the trucks were carrying about a dozen English-speaking militants dressed in U.S. military fatigues and carrying American-type weapons and fake identity cards.
The assailants headed directly for the U.S. contingent, throwing grenades and opening fire with automatic rifles. After killing one American soldier and injuring three more, they grabbed four other U.S. personnel and fled the compound. Later, Iraqi police found their abandoned vehicles; inside were discarded uniforms, radios, a rifle, and the bodies of three of the abducted soldiers. The fourth died on the way to the hospital.