By Carlo Muñoz - 08/03/12 08:19 PM EDT
“We are deeply disappointed in Iraq's decision not to extradite this terrorist leader," House Armed Services Committee chief Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said in a joint statement on Baghdad's decision to keep Ali Mussa Daqduq in Iraq.
He had been in American custody since his capture in 2008, but was handed over to Iraqi forces as part of the U.S. drawdown. Since then, the Obama administration had been pushing for Daqduq's extradition to the United States to stand trial for the attacks, which killed 5 American service members.
Daqduq is currently being held in a secure location inside the Green Zone in Baghdad, according to the Associated Press.
Iraq's decision to keep Hezbollah leader in the country now "makes it less likely that Daqduq will face justice for his role in the killing of American soldiers," according to the lawmakers.
Aside from slamming Baghdad's decision to block Daqduq's extradition, both House Republicans blamed the White House for putting in motion the circumstances that led to Iraq's decision to keep the terror leader.
At the time of the handover, several GOP lawmakers pushed the administration to move Daqduq and others in American custody in Iraq to the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
President Obama rejected that plan, as part of the White House's efforts to shut down the Guantanamo facility in early 2009.
Handing over Daqduq to Iraqi leaders was "a critical mistake" and the failed efforts by the administration to bring him to the United States to stand trial "is yet another unfortunate result of that original mistake," according to the joint statement.
“We remain very concerned that this administration's handling regarding the ultimate disposition of high-value terrorists captured in Iraq and Afghanistan ignores the very real threat they continue to pose to U.S. national security," they said.
McKeon and Smith called upon Defense Secretary Leon Panetta "to extend all efforts to ensure that this tragic mistake is not repeated with terrorists currently in U.S. custody in Afghanistan.”
Defense spokesman Lt. Col Todd Breasseale told the AP on Friday that Daqduq "should be held accountable for his crimes. Period."
The Pentagon "will continue to work closely with the Iraqi government to explore all legal options to pursue justice in this case," he added.