Advertisement

Archive for Monday, August 1, 2011

Iranian threat still looms as U.S. leaves Iraq

August 1, 2011

Advertisement

— Of all the leftover business for the Obama administration as U.S. troops prepare to leave Iraq at the end of the year, nothing is more symbolic of the continuing threats there — and throughout the region — than the case of a Lebanese Hezbollah operative named Ali Mussa Daqduq.

Daqduq has been one of Iran’s top covert operatives in Iraq, according to U.S. officials. He was captured in March 2007 by U.S. forces in Basra who had evidence he had plotted (with Iranian help) a kidnapping in Karbala that January that resulted in the deaths of five American soldiers. U.S. satellite photos showed the Iranians had even built a mockup of the Karbala facility inside Iran to practice the kidnapping.

Daqduq is now a prisoner at Camp Cropper, a U.S. detention facility near the Baghdad airport. Thousands of other detainees have already been released, and the U.S. must close Camp Cropper by year-end, under the status-of-forces agreement negotiated by the Bush administration. The detainees will be handed over to the Iraqis (who would likely free many of them) unless they are transferred elsewhere.

Herein lies the Daqduq conundrum, which has been the subject of weekly interagency meetings this summer: The White House is leaning against releasing a prisoner who has American blood on his hands. But how should he be prosecuted?

The administration is weighing several options. First, Daqduq could be tried by a U.S. military commission, presumably at Guantanamo Bay, under the laws of war. A second option is to try him in a civilian court. That’s what the Justice Department decided to do earlier this month with a Somali terrorism suspect named Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame. He was indicted and transferred to New York for trial, after being held for months in a naval vessel in the Persian Gulf.

The case — surprise! — has become something of a partisan political squabble. On July 21, 20 Republican senators wrote Defense Secretary Leon Panetta urging him not to release Daqduq to the Iraqis and arguing that he should be held at Gitmo and, if possible, tried by a military commission. “If he is released from custody, we firmly believe he will seek to harm or kill more American servicemen and women,” the senators wrote.

In a May 16 letter, Republican senators had warned Attorney General Eric Holder against trying Daqduq in a civilian court. “His actions clearly defy the laws of war,” they argued.

I’m no legal expert, but I do know that Daqduq represents the sharp end of the spear that Iran is pointing at Iraq and other Arab nations. He was part of Hezbollah’s special operations unit, created in the mid-1980s by the late Imad Mughniyah and directed by him until he was assassinated in 2008. The senior surviving member of this elite group of Hezbollah fighters is said to be Mustafa Badr al-Din, who, according to news reports, was indicted by the U.N. Special Tribunal for Lebanon for the 2005 murder of Rafiq al-Hariri.

A dossier on Daqduq — suggesting the scope of Iranian activities in Iraq — was presented in July 2007 by Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner, then U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad. In 2005, Hezbollah sent Daqduq to Iran to help train Iraqi extremists for the Quds Force, the covert-action arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. He made four trips into Iraq in 2006.

Back in Tehran, Daqduq was told to organize “Special Groups” of Shiite extremists that would operate like Hezbollah fighters. According to Bergner, Iran was, at that time, funding the Special Groups with $750,000 to $3 million a month, as well as training them to use “Explosively Formed Projectiles,” the sophisticated roadside bombs that have killed so many U.S. troops.

These Hezbollah cadres, backed with Iranian money and intelligence support, have in recent years fanned out across the region. As Arabic-speaking Lebanese, they can work with Shiite activists from Bahrain and eastern Saudi Arabia, as well as Iraq. Iran’s leverage in Iraq will be especially important if its ally, Bashar al-Assad, is toppled in Syria.

At a time when Iranian-made weapons are killing a rising number of U.S. troops who remain in Iraq, U.S. senior military commanders have warned the White House that releasing Daqduq would send what one calls “a horrible message.” The Obama administration seems to agree — and is weighing how to try this Hezbollah operative. I favor a trial, but not in the heart of Manhattan. The al-Qaida threat may be waning but not that posed by Hezbollah.

— David Ignatius is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group. His email address is davidignatius@washpost.com.

Comments

uncleandyt 3 years, 5 months ago

Our actions clearly defy the laws of war. There is no consideration of the laws of peace, the laws of physics, the laws of lawyers, or even the laws of the jungle. Goldstein is coming to get us ! , that's all you need to know.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 5 months ago

What a great comment. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. But thanks anyway.

uncleandyt 3 years, 5 months ago

As I continue to not make sense, We hear of the looming threat from Iran. Iran, itself, has not threatened you/US. Joe Lieberman, Rush What's'isName, and the American media tell us what to believe about Iran. They are softening us up to the bad idea that it would be wise to drop bombs on a 7th country.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 5 months ago

There are at least 50 USA military bases in Iraq none of which could we afford. BUSHCO then constructed a billion dollar 600 room luxury USA embassy yes the largest ever. For whom and for what? "Brownback was there blowing our tax dollars!"

There have been opinions from around the world that consider the USA war machine a genuine threat to world peace.

Food for thought: "Rebuilding America's Defences," openly advocates for total global military domination. http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Project_for_the_New_American_Century http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0208-05.htm http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/4120/we_arm_the_world/ "Brownback was there blowing our tax dollars!"

**Iran – Contra Secret Weapons Affair http://www.fas.org/irp/offdocs/walsh/execsum.htm http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/03/24/spy.network.probe/index.html

**The S&L scandal is by no means the only incident of questionable, and actually illegal, financial activity that the Bush family has been involved in. The line of questionable, illegal, and unethical businesses practices goes back at least to Prescott Bush Sr., George Bush Sr.’s father.

Prescott Bush was a Senator from 1952 – 1963. Previous to his time as a Senator Prescott was a banker and businessman. Prior to the American entry into WWII Prescott Bush was director of Union Banking Corporation. Union Banking Corporation helped to finance Hitler’s regime. The Concentration Camps of Nazi Germany were labor camps that the Nazis used to make products for their regime as well as for sale to raise money. Prescott profited directly from the Auschwitz labor camp.

In 1942, after Hitler declared war on America the United States government seized the Union Banking Corporation under the Trading with the Enemy Act as a front operation that was supporting the Nazis. Much of the profits from the operation were already pocketed by Prescott however, and $1.5 million was put in a trust fund for George Bush Sr.

For more on Prescott Bush's ties to the Nazis see: http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1312540,00.html

How about public education,college education,IMPROVED Medicare Single Payer Insurance and new industry thus new jobs INSTEAD of the war machine?

Flap Doodle 3 years, 5 months ago

merrill, if you are going to be posting about people's ancestors, you might mention that the father of the Campaigner in Chief was a violent alcoholic who abandoned his wife and child so he could get into a better grad school. He died in a drunken stupor following a car accident. Waaaay more interesting that slagging someone's grandfather.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.