The US handed over the last detainee in Iraq, Ali Mussa Daqduq, to Iraqi authorities on Friday as part of the end of the Iraq War [JURIST backgrounder]. Daqduq allegedly has links to Hezbollah [JURIST news archive] and is accused of planning a raid in 2007 which resulted in the deaths of five US soldiers [NYT report]. US President Barack Obama [official website] considered trying Daqduq on US soil [JURIST report] but was unable to come to an agreement with Iraqi officials. Since no decision could be reached, Duqdaq had to be transferred to Iraq officials pursuant to the 2008 status-of-forces agreement between the US and Baghdad. The decision to turn over Duqdaq will likely spark political controversy, because many politicians were concerned with releasing Duqdaq [letter, PDF] to Iraqi authorities:
If [Duqdaq] is released from custody, we firmly believe that he will seek to harm or kill more American servicemen and women. Our concern is that Iraq's current legal regime could allow for Daqduq to to return to the fight either as a result of an inability to detain and prosecute him under Iraqi criminal laws, ineffective incarceration, or other challenges. We know that matters such as these remain the subject of ongoing discussions with our Iraqi partners, but we believe that the potential transfer of Daqduq to Iraqi authority could pose an unacceptable risk to US national security interests.Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki stated that Iraq could not allow the Daqduq to be transferred to the US because current Iraqi law did not permit it. It is currently unclear whether the administration will still seek to have Daqduq extradited eventually to be tried on US soil or to be tried under a military commission [JURIST news archive] at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive].
The location of the trials of foreign terror suspects detained by the US has been a controversial issue. In July the US brought Somali terror suspect Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame to the US to face a civil trial in New York [JURIST report], a decision that has sparked harsh criticism from members of Congress who argued that terror suspects should be held at Guantanamo Bay. Obama ordered military commissions of detainees to resume [JURIST report] in March after he initially suspended new charges at Guantanamo Bay shortly after taking office in 2009. US Attorney General Eric Holder [official website] has consistently advocated [JURIST report] that terror suspects should be tried in civilian courts despite finding little support from Congress. In April, Holder announced that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and four other co-conspirators will be tried before a military commission [JURIST report] for their roles in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Holder, who wanted the accused be tried before a federal civilian court [JURIST report], referred the cases to the Department of Defense (DOD) [official website] after Congress imposed a series of restrictions [JURIST report] barring the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the US.