Baghdad: The White House is asking Iraq to hand over a Hezbollah commander who was accused of masterminding a 2007 attack that killed five American soldiers, a senior US official has said, though two Iraqi courts have declared him not guilty.
The case is a tricky aftermath of the long US military campaign in Iraq that ended last year and has elements of both Iraqi and US internal politics.
Ali Mussa Daqduq has been released from prison but is being held under house arrest in Baghdad's heavily-fortified Green Zone as Washington seeks to bring US charges against him.
Daqduq, a Lebanese citizen, is considered a top threat to Americans in the Middle East and was detained for more than four years by the US military before it left Iraq last December.
In an interview with a news agency, Antony J Blinken, the national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, said the US wants to keep Ali Mussa Daqduq locked up for as long as legally possible.
Blinken said the Obama administration also will file a request on behalf of the victims' families for Iraq's highest appeals court to review and correct its June 25 order to free Daqduq.
"The process has not concluded," Blinken said on Thursday. "It is still ongoing."
He said the White House has consistently urged Baghdad to use any legal means to prosecute and detain Daqduq "for the crimes he committed on Iraqi soil, including any crimes against US service-members”.
"And that has been a constant message," Blinken said. Ali al-Moussawi, media adviser to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, said he was unaware of any US request to extradite Daqduq.
The US believes Daqduq plotted a brazen 2007 raid on a military camp in the holy Iraqi city of Karbala that killed five American soldiers. He is accused of working with Iranian agents to train Shi’ite militias to target the US military.
A debate between the Democratic White House and Republicans in Congress over whether high-risk terror suspects should be brought to the US for trial stalled the case against Daqduq last year. He was handed over to Iraqi authorities as required when American troops left Iraq.
First Published: Friday, July 13, 2012, 11:41