Why couldn’t the US prosecute Musa Ali Daqduq?

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 five 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.

Ironically, the US Treasury Department added Daqduq to the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists just days after he was released from Iraqi custody.

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.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Mafer says:

    The right of armed resistance against military ocupation is universally recognized as legitimate. The only question is if that legitimacy also would confer to a Lebanese National in Iraq, which seems less likely.

  • Jeff Edelman says:

    That’s a great question, Bill. But, unless you’re a senator who is able to filibuster one of the president’s appointments, your odds of getting an answer are slim and all the way home on the bus. But, don’t feel so all alone. There are lots like you out there who would like answers on certain matters. Benghazi comes immediately to mind.

  • SomeGuy says:

    Bill, thank you once again for not letting this go. As a friend of one on the murdered Soldiers I know you are the only one out there spotlighting this whole affair.
    It’s only a matter of time before Daqduq and the Khazali brothers are tied to more bloodshed…when that happens it with hopefully give this story the legs it needs to get the MSM attention it deserves.

  • christopher murphy says:

    WTF. They both should be rotting in Guantanamo Bay for eternity.
    The Long War Journal is an amazing website and I thank you all for providing us with the most in depth coverage I have been able to find on the web. Keep up the excellent work!

  • mike merlo says:

    more than anything what ‘all’ this exposes is just how clueless President Obama & his Administration is

  • Farooq says:

    The international and US legal questions aside. In order for someone to be prosecuted there has to be enough evidence. Did it occur to you that may be we couldn’t prosecute him in the US and the reason he was released by the Iraqis is because there wasn’t enough evidence?

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Farooq, I can tell you for certain that there indeed was enough evidence to prosecute Daqduq.

  • Gary H. says:

    The difference is obvious. It is political. Abu Ghaith was arrested after the election. The President has a freer hand now.

  • Gaz says:

    Daqduq was allegedly involved with the killing of 7 armed US combatants in the middle of an active war zone. Thousands of Americans and tens of thousands or Iraqi combatants were killed during the war; and back in 2007, hundreds of bound and gagged bodies with torture signs were being dumped in landfills on a weekly basis.
    Noone was ever charged for any of this, why should this individual be singled out?

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Gaz, if you read up on Daqduq, you’d know he is in the top echelons of Hezbollah, and was sent to Iraq to train/establish Shia groups along the lines of Hezbollah. So he is complicit in the death of thousands. He is every bit as dangerous as Abu Gaith, if not more so for his operational experience.

  • Joe says:

    These terrorists (those who are non-US Citizens) are enemy combatants; it would be understandable if Abu Gaith is a US Citizen. He is not and needs to stand trial as an enemy combatant at a military court. Ridiculous.

  • Moose says:

    I agree with Gary H. The outrage when Obama wanted to try KSM in federal court two blocks from the WTC site was intense. Obama was avoiding a political firestorm in the middle of an election.

  • M.H says:

    The problem in prosecuting a member of Hezbollah is because the European Union is not considering this group as a terrorist organization. It is time specially for France and Germany to step up and recognize Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.


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