Wed, Jan 04, 2012
What happens to terrorism suspect Ali Musa Daqduq: Will he be tried or be released?
A Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center report: Ali Daqduq, senior Lebanese Hezbollah operative handled by the Iranian Al-Quds Force to support Shi’ite militias in Iraq, was captured by the coalition and held by the Americans. He was recently handed over to the Iraqi administration, which may release him as it released Quds Force operatives captured in Iraq.
Ali Daqduq and the circumstances of his capture
On December 16, 2011, sources in the American and Iraqi administrations announced that Ali Daqduq , a senior Lebanese Hezbollah operative, captured by the coalition forces in Iraq on March 20, 2007, had been handed over to the Iraqi government. According to Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the National Security Council in Washington, his transfer had been effected after the Obama administration had “sought and received assurances” from the Iraqi administration that Daqduq would be tried for his crimes. (Ali Daqduq was involved in an attack which claimed the lives of five American soldiers).
Ali Musa Daqduq is a Lebanese Shi’ite, a senior Hezbollah operative in Lebanon as of 1983 who, in May 2006, was sent by the Hezbollah leadership to support the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC-QF). That was done by training, organizing and directing the actions of Iraqi Shi’ite militias fighting the United States and coalition forces. He and other Lebanese Hezbollah instructors trained Iraqi Shi’ite operatives in Iran. He was also sent by the Quds Force on a mission to aid the Shi’ite militias in Iraq, entering the country with forged documents.
On one of his missions in Iraq Ali Daqduq acted as a consultant to Qais al-Khazali, the leader of a Shi’ite militia directed by the Quds Force in southern Iraq. He participated in their military operations, among them the January 20, 2007 attack on the Karbala Joint Provincial Coordinating Center (KJPCC), during which five American soldiers were abducted and executed.
Two months after the attack, on March 20, 2007, Ali Daqduq was captured by the coalition forces in Basra. Since then he had been held without trial by the American army. Captured with him were Qais and Laith al-Khazali, two senior Shi’ite militia operatives, who were handled by the Quds Force and participated on the attack against the KJPCC. In Ali Daqduq’s possession were a large quantity of documents, one of them a training manual which dealt with planning attacks against American and coalition forces. It described, among other things, placing IEDs, carrying out abductions and firing at helicopters. The important documents and information about Ali Daqduq were made public by the American forces in Iraq.
Hezbollah in Lebanon as a Quds Force proxy in the Iraqi arena
The IRGC-QF is active in a wide range of subversive activities beyond the borders of Iran as part of its overall goal of exporting the revolution. Those activities include providing training and equipment, and financing and directing the revolutionary Islamist militias and networks whose ideologies are affiliated with Iran’s. The militias and networks, directed to carry out missions of subversion and terrorism, are mostly recruited from the ranks of the Shi’ite population in countries like Lebanon, Iraq and Bahrain and Pakistan.
Hezbollah in Lebanon (which for Iran is the best example of its success in exporting the revolution) is directed by the IRGC-QF for subversion and terrorism not only in Lebanon and in the Middle East, but worldwide as well. In recent years Hezbollah has also operated in the Iraqi arena, exploiting its proven capabilities in subversion and terrorism. The Iranians have also exploited and been aided by the sectarian-religious-cultural connections between Hezbollah operatives and local Iraqi Shi’ites.
In May 2006 Hezbollah sent Ali Daqduq to Tehran, accompanied by Yusuf Hashem, a high-ranking Hezbollah operative responsible for the organization’s operations in Iraq. In Iran the two met with and received instructions from IRGC-QF commander Brigadier-General Qassem Suleimani and his deputy. Ali Daqduq later participated in a variety of missions assigned to Hezbollah operatives in Iran and Iraq by the Quds Force.
Hezbollah in Lebanon provided support for a subversive Quds Force in Iraq in the following areas:
1. Training Iraqi Shi’ite operatives in Iran: At first, in 2006, training exercises were held in southern Iraq east of Basra, but later on, after a strong attack carried out by the American and Iraqi government armies, the training camp was moved to the region of Tehran. Militia operatives captured in Iraq after their return told interrogators that they had undergone basic courses, courses for commanders, advanced courses for instructors in Iraq, and courses in specific military fields. They said they had been trained by both Iranians and Hezbollah instructors.
2. Training Iraqi Shi’ite operatives in Lebanon: Interrogations of the operatives who were captured in Iraq revealed that not all the training was held in camps in Iran. In some instances the Iraqi operatives were flown to Damascus and then taken overland to Hezbollah training camps in Lebanon near the Syria-Lebanon border. In Lebanon they underwent three-week training courses conducted by Hezbollah instructors. They trained them in special weapons, including firing advanced anti-tank missiles and sniper rifles. They also acquired skills in commanding, directing, planning projects, supervising weapons depots, storing weapons, communications, security and techniques of gathering intelligence.
3. Helping the Quds Force establish Shi’ite militias in southern Iraq and participation in operational activities:
A. Ali Daqduq did not only train Iraqi recruits in Iranian training camps, he was also sent by the Quds Force on four operational missions in Iraq. On his return to Iran after the fourth mission he was instructed by his Iranian handlers to establish “special groups” of Shi’ite operatives in Iraq using the model of Hezbollah in Lebanon. According to a 2007 briefing given by Brigadier-General Kevin Bergner, United States Army spokesman in Iraq, Iran financed the special groups, giving them between $750,000 and $3 million every month. He said that Iran also trained them in the use of sophisticated roadside bombs (explosively formed projectiles, EFPs, more powerful and deadly than ordinary IEDs) which caused many casualties among the American and Iraqi forces.
B. At the time of his capture in Basra, Ali Daqduq served as adviser to Qais al-Khazali, leader of one of the militias directed by the Quds Force and participated in their military actions against the coalition forces. He was also involved in the Special Groups attack on the KJPCC which resulted in the deaths of five American soldiers. American Army spokesman Kevin Bergner stated that American satellite photos revealed that the Iranians had constructed a mockup of the Karbala facility for al-Khazali’s militia operatives to use in simulated attacks.
When the American forces left Iraq Hezbollah in Lebanon said in an official statement that “a great historic victory” had been achieved in Iraq (Al-Intiqad, December 16, 201). It further stated that the American forces had been humiliated and that the Iraqi people had defeated the great power of the United States with “heroic resistance.” It congratulated the victory “achieved by the thousands of shaheeds and wounded [men] who sacrificed themselves.” The announcement said it should be considered a model for all the peoples of the world who were oppressed and confronting the “arrogant powers” [i.e., the United States and its allies].
What will happen to Ali Daqduq?
During the past year the American administration debated how to deal with the case of Ali Daqduq. There were Republican senators who demanded he be sent to the detention camp in Guantánamo Bay, while the Obama administration examined the possibility of trying him in an American military tribunal. However officials said they had no choice but to transfer him to the custody of the Iraqi administration under the terms of the 2008 security agreement which requires all U.S. troops to leave Iraq by December 31 and the consent of the Iraqi government to transfer individuals into or out of the country.
According to an American media report issued on the eve of Ali Daqduq’s transfer to Iraq, the White House tried to secure assurances that Ali Daqduq would be tried by the Iraqi administration. American intelligence, said the report, feared he would be released and turned over to Iran. In our assessment, their fear is well-founded. According to past reports, the Iranians and Lebanese were in contact with the Iraqi government to secure Ali Daqduq’s release (Reuters, November 3, 2011). Moreover, according to the December 23, 2011 edition of the Lebanese newspaper Al-Shiraa, a delegation of Hezbollah in Lebanon was supposed to visit Iraq to meet with high-ranking members of the government to discuss Daqduq’s release.
Ali Daqduq is supposed to be tried by the Iraqi government for illegally infiltrating into the country using forced documents, a felony punishable with up to five years in prison. However, it an be assumed that following the withdrawal of the American forces it will be easier for the Iraqi government to release him to his Iranian handlers, as they released previous senior Quds Force operatives captured in Iraq.
2. The Americans called the militia the Special Groups network, which later turned into the League of the Righteous (Asaib Ahal al-Haq, AAH).
3. Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, Joseph Felter, Brian Fishman: “Iranian Strategy in Iraq, Politics and Other Means” (October 13, 2008) p. 67-70.
5. Thedailybeast.com, December 17, 2011, http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/12/17/u-s-turns-over-terrorism-suspect-ali-musa-daqduq-to-iraq.html