BAGHDAD — The U.S. military on Friday handed over its last and most controversial prisoner to the Iraqi government ahead of the departure of the remaining few thousand U.S. troops, officials said.
The prisoner, Ali Musa Daqduq, a senior member of the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah movement, is suspected in the killings of five U.S. soldiers in 2007. He was transferred to Iraqi custody after the Obama administration "sought and received assurances that he will be tried for his crimes," said Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the National Security Council in Washington.
Republican lawmakers had demanded that Daqduq, a Lebanese national, be taken to the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay. On Friday, Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Joseph I. Lieberman, I-Conn., and Lindsey O. Graham, R-S.C. called the transfer "disgraceful" in a statement.
The Obama administration had explored the possibility of charging Daqduq in a military commission to be held in the United States. But officials said they had no choice but to transfer him to Iraqi custody under the terms of the security agreement negotiated in 2008 by the Bush administration, which requires the consent of the Iraqi government to transfer individuals into or out of the country.
The government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki refused to allow the United States to take Daqduq, and the Obama administration decided not to whisk him out of the country secretly as some on Capitol Hill had urged.
Sami al-Askari, a lawmaker and close aide to Maliki, said Daqduq had been transferred to the Iraqi Justice Ministry, which would investigate whether there was enough evidence to charge him with crimes.