News of the arrest and transfer to the US of Suleiman Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law and former spokesman, exposes a critical inconsistency in the Obama administration’s handling of terrorists who are in custody. The US will prosecute Abu Ghaith for terrorist activities in federal court.
But if the US can transport Abu Ghaith onto US soil and prosecute him for terrorist activities, why couldn’t the Obama administration do the same with Musa Ali Daqduq, the senior Hezbollah commander who was captured in Iraq in 2007? The US Department of Justice had planned to prosecute Daqduq and the FBI was building a case against him.
Daqduq was directly implicated in the kidnapping and murder of seven US soldiers in Karbala in January 2007. He was in US custody up until December 2011, just before the US withdrew from Iraq. Although the administration argued that it had to turn over Daqduq to Iraqi custody upon withdrawal, Daqduq was not an Iraqi citizen.
The FBI was actively seeking to prosecute Daqduq, but a political fight broke out between Republicans and the Obama administration as to how Daqduq should be handled. The Obama administration refused to transfer Daqduq to Guantanamo Bay for a military trial, while members of Congress said they would block administration attempts to transfer Daqduq to the US for a trial in federal court.
He was transferred to Iraqi custody and subsequently released in November 2012.
The release of Daqduq is a major counterterrorism failure for the Obama administration. He has since returned to Lebanon, where he is now back in business with Hezbollah.
We here at The Long War Journal are extremely curious to know why Abu Ghaith can be transferred to the US and tried in a civilian court, but the same couldn’t happen for Daqduq, who was actually in US military custody.