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After the attack ended, the insurgents returned to their vehicles and sped off with four American soldiers as hostages, where their executed bodies were later found 25 miles away in and around several abandoned SUVs.
According to the American military account, two of the US soldiers were found handcuffed together in the back of one of the SUVs with gunshot wounds to the head. A third soldier was found on the ground dead with the fourth soldier lying mortally wounded nearby.
A few months later in March 2007, Daqduq, along with Qais al-Khazali, his brother Layith Khazali and other members of the assassination team, was captured by US forces in the southern Iraqi city of Basra.
It should be noted that in June 2009, the Obama administration released both Qais al-Khazali and his brother Layith in what was widely believed part of a negotiated hostage exchange for five Iranian-held British hostages captured in 2007.
The Bush administration had refused to negotiate their release given Iran was continuing to coordinate terrorist operations against American forces in Iraq as well as aiding Taliban and al-Qaeda operations against American forces in Afghanistan.
The Obama White House, however, insisted the prisoner release was not tied to the British hostages but rather to further an “Iraqi reconciliation effort”with AAH, a version of events contracted by Iraqi government officials who noted that prisoner exchange negotiations had indeed taken place.
Perhaps not surprisingly, two weeks after the release of the Khazali brothers, the corpses of two of the British hostages were dropped off at the British Embassy in Baghdad. While a third hostage was released in December 2009, the whereabouts of the remaining two British hostages remain unknown.
Yet, while the Khazali’s were free to resume plying their terrorist trade, Daqduq remained in custody at America’s Camp Cropper prison in Iraq, his fate being debated over the course of two administrations.
While the Bush administration had wanted to try Daqduq in a US criminal court, the terms of the 2008 status-of-forces security agreement required the consent of the Iraqi government to transfer individuals into or out of the country. So, in an effort to not jeopardize the agreement by insisting on his extradition to the United States, Daqduq’s fate was handed off to the Obama administration.
For its part, the Obama White House wanted to prosecute Daqduq in a military commission on US soil, but Republicans wanted him prosecuted before a military tribunal at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba.
Yet, the Obama administration rejected that point having said a trial at Guantanamo Bay would not be an option given the administration’s decision to not permit new detainees to be sent to the detention facility and “add to its population.”
In either case, the argument was made moot given that the Shiite-dominated government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki refused to allow Daqduq taken out of the country to stand trial, a refusal stemmed in part by reports that the Iranians and Lebanese had been in contact with the Iraqi government to secure Daqduq’s release once the US had left Iraq.
Unfortunately, that release has now been secured by an Iraqi court, a decision which will allow Ali Musa Daqduq to once again ply his murderous trade.
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