WASHINGTON - The Obama administration is considering a military trial in the United States for a Hezbollah commander now detained in Iraq, US counterterrorism officials said, previewing a potential prosecution strategy that has failed before but may offer a solution to a difficult legal problem for the government.
While the United States hasn’t made a decision, officials said a tribunal at a military base may be the best way to deal with Ali Mussa Daqduq, who was captured in Iraq in 2007. He has been linked to the Iranian government and a raid in which four American soldiers were abducted and killed in the holy city of Karbala in 2007.
No military commission has been held on US soil since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. President George W. Bush tried holding a few suspected terrorists at military bases inside the United States, but each detainee was ultimately released or transferred to civilian courts.
President Obama has said that because of changes to the military commissions that give prisoners more rights, he supports them as an option in the fight against terrorism. Hezbollah is an Iranian-backed Lebanese militant group that the United States has branded a terrorist organization.
But a tribunal for Daqduq would probably draw criticism from liberals, who say a civilian court should be used, as well as from conservatives, who do not want suspected terrorists brought to the United States regardless of the venue.
The officials who discussed the deliberations spoke on condition of anonymity because no decision has been made.
Obama’s counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, would not discuss the administration’s plan for Daqduq.