US transfers final detainee to Iraqi government

The US handed over the last detainee in Iraq, Ali Mussa Daqduq, to Iraqi authorities on Dec. 16 as part of the end of the Iraq occupation. Daqduq allegedly has links to Hezbollah and is accused of planning a raid in 2007 which resulted in the deaths of five US soldiers. US President Barack Obama considered trying Daqduq on US soil but was unable to come to an agreement with Iraqi officials. Since no decision could be reached, Duqdaq had to be transferred to Iraq officials pursuant to the 2008 status-of-forces agreement between the US and Baghdad. The decision to turn over Duqdaq will likely spark political controversy, because many US politicians were concerned with releasing Duqdaq to Iraqi authorities. John McCain and other senators wrote in a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta (PDF):

If [Duqdaq] is released from custody, we firmly believe that he will seek to harm or kill more American servicemen and women. Our concern is that Iraq’s current legal regime could allow for Daqduq to to return to the fight either as a result of an inability to detain and prosecute him under Iraqi criminal laws, ineffective incarceration, or other challenges. We know that matters such as these remain the subject of ongoing discussions with our Iraqi partners, but we believe that the potential transfer of Daqduq to Iraqi authority could pose an unacceptable risk to US national security interests.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki stated that Iraq could not allow the Daqduq to be transferred to the US because current Iraqi law did not permit it. It is currently unclear whether the administration will still seek to have Daqduq extradited eventually to be tried on US soil or to be tried under a military commission at Guantánamo Bay.

From Jurist, Dec. 18. Used with permission.

See our last posts on the Iraq and the detainment scandals.