A Lebanese Hezbollah operative who has been accused of helping to kill American troops in Iraq, may soon be released, U.S. officials said Sunday.
WASHINGTON — A senior Iraqi official has told the Obama administration that Iraq no longer has a legal basis to hold a Lebanese Hezbollah operative who has been accused of helping to kill American troops in Iraq, and U.S. officials are concerned he may soon be released, U.S. officials said Sunday.
American officials said the U.S. ambassador in Baghdad, Robert Beecroft, had been instructed to seek a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to urge that the Hezbollah operative, Ali Musa Daqduq, be kept in detention.
At the same time, U.S. officials are worried their efforts may fall short, and they quietly informed congressional leaders last week that Daqduq might soon go free.
Daqduq, who was captured by British forces in Basra in March 2007, was the last detainee to be handed over to the Iraqis by the United States as American troops withdrew in December 2011.
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U.S. military officials have accused Daqduq of working with the Quds Force — an Iranian paramilitary unit that supports militant movements abroad — to train Shiite militias in Iraq during the war.
One of the most serious allegations stems from his suspected role in helping to organize a January 2007 raid in Karbala that led to the deaths of five American soldiers.
Some Iraqi officials have previously suggested they would seek to mollify the Obama administration by putting off releasing Daqduq until the presidential campaign was over, but U.S. officials insist they don’t want him released at all.
Daqduq once oversaw the security detail for Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s supreme leader. He worked in the group’s external operations unit, and has repeatedly visited the Tehran headquarters of the Quds Force.
Daqduq was captured in Basra on March 20, 2007, in a raid that also netted Laith Khazali and his brother Qais, the leaders of a Shiite group known as Asaib Ahl al-Haq. A hard drive recovered at the site contained documents about the planning of the Karbala raid and even scanned copies of the contents of the wallet of one of the Americans killed in the attack.