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Lawmakers are condemning the Iraqi government following its release of a Hezbollah operative responsible for orchestrating the murder of five American soldiers.
The release of Ali Mussa Daqduq, a terrorist wanted by the U.S. government, complicates America’s desire to prosecute him for his crimes, the Associated Press reported.
Daqduq had been held by U.S. forces in Iraq but was turned over to Iraqi authorities when American forces departed the nation. He stands accused of planning a 2007 attack on American troops that claimed the lives of five soldiers.
Sens. Mark Kirk (R., Ill.) and John McCain (R., Ariz.) both expressed shock at Daqduq’s release and dubbed the move a concerning development in the post-war relationship between the U.S. and Iraq.
“We warned the administration that Daqduq’s transfer from American to Iraqi custody would lead to his release and ultimately return to the battlefield of terror—and that’s exactly what appears to have happened. Daqduq, a long time member of Hezbollah's inner circle, will undoubtedly contribute to that organization's efforts aimed at destabilizing an already volatile region,” Kirk said in a statement provided to the Free Beacon.
"The administration needs to explain to the American public why it let a terrorist commander responsible for the brutal kidnapping and murder of American soldiers return to his terrorist sponsors,” the statement said.
McCain referred to the release as an “outrage,” according to the New York Times.
Republican lawmakers also expressed their disappointment in the Iraqis.
"We are deeply disappointed that Iraqi authorities have chosen to release Ali Mussa Daqduq, the Hezbollah agent who murdered five Americans,” a delegation of senior House Republicans said in a statement Friday.
They include Reps. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (R., Calif.), chair of the House Armed Services Committee; Mike Rogers (R., Mich.), chair of the House Intelligence Committee; Lamar Smith (R., Texas), chair of the House Judiciary Committee; and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“This move calls into question the Obama administration’s decision to turn Daqduq over to Iraqi authorities in the first place, and is yet another national security threat that could have been avoided had the President been successful in his negotiations to secure a long-term Status of Forces Agreement with the Government of Iraq,” the lawmakers said.
"Due to this failure, a senior Hezbollah operative with American blood on his hands is now free in one of the most unstable regions of the world,” the statement said. “As we conclude our military operations in Afghanistan, President Obama's administration will be faced with similar choices.”
Terrorists currently in American custody in Afghanistan should not be treated similarly when the U.S. departs, the lawmakers said.
“There are currently dangerous terrorists in U.S. custody in Afghanistan who pose a grave threat to our national security,” the Republicans said. “We must not release these individuals in a rush to retreat from Afghanistan. We sincerely hope the president learns from history, so that the American people are not forced to repeat it.”
The AP reports on the events leading up to Daqduq’s release:
Two Iraqi courts, including the country's central criminal court in July, subsequently found Daqduq not guilty of the Karbala attack. However, he was held under house arrest in the heavily fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad. …
Daqduq's lawyer, Abdul-Mahdi al-Mitairi, said Iraqi authorities decided to free the Hezbollah militant once U.S. elections were over. It appeared Iraqi officials did not want to embarrass President Barack Obama during his reelection campaign.
"He was supposed to be released once the court found him not guilty but because of the U.S. presidential elections, he was kept under house arrest," al-Mitairi said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.