Unreal: U.S. trades top Iranian-backed Iraqi terrorist for British hostage

posted at 4:25 pm on December 31, 2009 by Allahpundit

So mind-bendingly insane is this that I thought Roggio might have been duped by his sources. Not so: Both the Guardian and now Jake Tapper have independently confirmed that it’s true. Remember Qais Khazali? We wrote about him a bunch in early 2007. He used to be an al-Sadr deputy, then broke away and hooked up with Iran to start his own little mini-Hezbollah. That group, the “League of the Righteous,” ended up pulling off one of the most notorious, sophisticated anti-American operations of the Iraq war in Karbala. The toll: Five Americans murdered, four of them after they were kidnapped, bound, and shot in the head like animals. U.S. troops caught up to Khazali two months later and captured him and his brother; the ID cards of several dead American soldiers were recovered at the scene. No less a figure than David Petraeus went on to blame the Karbala raid squarely on Khazali’s outfit and accused Iran’s Quds Force — the creme de la creme of the Revolutionary Guard, responsible for assisting Iranian proxy jihadis like Hezbollah in other countries — of bankrolling the whole thing.

And now, after three years in U.S. custody, he’s free.

“We let a very dangerous man go, a man whose hands are stained with US and Iraqi blood,” a military officer said. “We are going to pay for this in the future.”

The US military has maintained that the release of members and leaders of the League of the Righteous is related to a reconciliation agreement between the terror group and the Iraqi government, but some US military officers disagree.

“The official line is the release of Qazali is about reconciliation, but in reality this was a prisoner swap,” a military intelligence official said…

“This was a deal signed and sealed in British and American blood,” a US military officer told The Long War Journal. “We freed all of their leaders and operatives; they [the League of the Righteous] executed their hostages and sent them back in body bags. And we’re supposed to be happy about it.”

Tapper’s military source insists that this has nothing to do with a prisoner swap but merely the U.S. honoring its obligations under the U.S.-Iraqi Security Agreement, but it ain’t just Roggio’s sources who insist that’s a lie. According to the Guardian, not only is this a prisoner swap but the guy we’re getting in return — Peter Moore, a British computer consultant who’s been held hostage in Iran since May 2007 — was kidnapped by Khazali’s group precisely because they wanted a bargaining chip to negotiate for Khazali’s release.

Moore was seized two months later by the Righteous League, which aimed to swap him for members who had been detained during US military sweeps, then ultimately Khazali, who would emerge as the man who had seen his followers freed ahead of him. Moore was the group’s most valuable pawn…

Khazali’s stature within Shia circles has risen during his time in American custody and he is expected to assume a senior leadership role within the Righteous League, possibly replacing the group’s Iran-based leader, Akram al-Kabi. He is also expected to be offered a prominent role in Iraq’s Shia-dominated political landscape as the Righteous League gains political legitimacy.Khazali is now in the custody of Iraqi security forces. It wil be a short incarceration. He will face an Iraqi judge within days, who will almost certainly rule that he has commited no crime under Iraqi law. Khazali will then be freed and his latest role in public life will begin.

According to Roggio, it’s not just politics that the League of the Righteous is interested in: “Both the US military and the Iraqi military believe that the Special Groups are preparing to reinitiate fighting as their leaders and operatives are beginning to filter back into Iraq from Iran. On Feb. 4, Lieutenant General Lloyd Austin, the deputy commander of Multinational Forces Iraq, said that Iran continues to arm, fund, and train the Special Groups, and that munitions traced back to Iran continue to be uncovered in Iraq.”

In a new piece out today, the Guardian quotes a former Revolutionary Guardsman as saying that Moore’s kidnapping was masterminded by Iran and that he’s been held in Quds Force prisons inside the country ever since. Which brings us to the two obvious questions. One: If we did release Khazali at the Iraqi government’s behest, why on earth would Maliki et al. want a turd like this on the loose? A Shiite government shouldn’t need a Shiite terrorist released in the interests of “reconciliation.” They can do plenty of other political favors for their sect. Either Iran has more leverage over Baghdad than we thought (even at a moment when the regime in Tehran is under fire at home) or the Iraqi government is hoping to coopt Khazali and his connections towards god knows what end. And two: Security agreement or no security agreement, why is The One agreeing to spring a guy whom we know is guilty of murdering American soldiers? He’s a clear threat to troops in the field, and not just in Karbala: Tapper cites documents recovered during his capture that point to his responsibility for upwards of 20 attacks in various cities. Surely the Iraqis aren’t about to kick us out of the country if we politely decline their request to parole a terrorist mastermind. How many jihadis do we have to release before someone figures out that releasing jihadis is an exceedingly bad idea?

Exit question, again via Roggio: Is this even legal?

Update: Am I hallucinating? Qais Khazali, Iraqi political rock star?

Iraq’s Shia Islamic groups and political blocs are casting Qais al-Khazali as a resistance hero with a big political future, despite American insistence that the soon-to-be-freed cleric plays no direct role in politics…

The leader of prime minister Nouri al-Maliki’s reconciliation committee, Mohammed Suleiman, said: “Qais al-Khazali has committed no crime under Iraqi law and is welcome to play a role in public life as we welcome all groups to be part of the political process.”…

The US military accused him of co-ordinating an ambush on behalf of al-Quds brigades that led to five US soldiers being killed in the holy Shia city of Karbala in January 2007. However, even if proven, such an action does not constitute a crime under Iraqi law.

Update: The left’s defense of this, I assume, will be that we’ve let Sadr run free for six years so what’s the big deal about Khazali? The answer: By that logic, why not repatriate those Yemeni Gitmo detainees pronto given that there’s already plenty of AQ in the field over there? If you’ve already neutralized someone, especially a fully funded Mughniyeh-esque proxy of Iran, for god’s sake, keep him neutralized.

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Seven Percent Solution on December 31, 2009 at 7:10 PM

I think I love you!! Heh…:)

lovingmyUSA on January 1, 2010 at 10:19 AM

Happy New Year, fellow infidels.

TXUS on December 31, 2009 at 7:34 PM

You too, TXUS! This the year we take back the USA!

lovingmyUSA on January 1, 2010 at 10:21 AM

g2825m on January 1, 2010 at 4:32 AM

You post the most reasoned and intelligent responses, spoken by one who clearly has counted the cost and made a commitment. Heroes 1, trolls 0 (just like their leader). Words are inadequate to thank you for your service and defending our freedom. Prayers and blessings surround you in 2010!

indypat on January 1, 2010 at 10:30 AM

Obama’s Iran policy has been an utter failure. Why should he go down a different path now?

drjohn on January 1, 2010 at 10:45 AM

No way people will vote for him again, no way.

scalleywag on December 31, 2009 at 6:42 PM

By “people” I assume you mean “the majority of the electorate”. You know damned well that there will always be a percentage of black racists and white guilt-trippers who will pull the lever for him no matter what. That percentage will be strangely similar to the percentage of low-functioning morons in this country. Purely a coincidence, of course.

Extrafishy on January 1, 2010 at 10:58 AM

Can’t wait to see what Obama will do to get back those “5 American Terrorists in Pakistan” I say lets see how those terrorist in training like Pakistan’s jails. Or whatever they do with a terrorist when they catch them.

HAVE AT ‘EM PAKISTAN!! Do whatcha gotta do.

Bicyea on January 1, 2010 at 11:30 AM


thedarknight: I find it very hard to believe that the US would agree to do so for a lowly computer programmer. There simply must be a lot more to this, but what it is I really don’t know.

Prediction: Watch the UC Berkeley student hostage crisis espionage trial pirouette in tune with Iraq’s Khazali hearing.

I’d forgotten about them. Note the link supplied by the next poster where the hostage’s father claims the deal was done by the US behind the UK’s back. Cover for a deal on the hikers? Seems quite possible.

thedarknight on January 1, 2010 at 12:58 PM

Please tell me this pig has a beeper in his butt.

mojo on January 1, 2010 at 6:08 PM

There is a reason that we as a nation did not negotiate with hostage takers, let the kidnapping flood gates open hide.

I guess the lives of a few dead soldiers isn’t worth the life of some computer analyst.

If I was on active duty right now I believe I would be looking hard at my future job prospects. In my not so educated opinion this administration views the US military as cannon fodder. Playing with their lives like a big board game.

My disdain for all politicians grows everyday. Democrats and Republicans alike have lost their ways, all they care about is their “power”, while we as a nation grows weaker with every stroke of their pens.

Spiff sends regards

SPIFF1669 on January 2, 2010 at 8:49 AM

This story seems to me to be as significant as, say, half an Iran-Contra scandal.

Is anyone covering it yet here, except Tapper?

AshleyTKing on January 3, 2010 at 3:21 AM


AMERICAN VETERAN on January 3, 2010 at 11:45 AM


AMERICAN VETERAN on January 3, 2010 at 11:45 AM

why is The One agreeing to spring a guy whom we know is guilty of murdering American soldiers? –Allahpundit

G-ddamn you to hell, Barry Soetoro. You are the 20th hijacker.

I only saw a glimpse of this story in the past few days due to holiday distractions. CNN portrayted the release of the Brit as completely unrelated to a swap of any kind. They made it seem like a random act of beneficence on the part of his captors.

G-ddamn you, Barry Soetoro or Barack Hussein Fauxbama, whoever or whatever you are.

Western_Civ on January 3, 2010 at 12:26 PM

I don’t know if this was Barry’s idea or that of one of his idiot czars, but whoever did it put weapons in the hands of our enemies, literally and directly, while at the same time pardoning a terrorist murderer.

It’s not “nice” to set an unrepentant murderer free. It’s not “humane” or “civilized,” it’s not “enlightened” or “egalitarian,” it’s just aiding and abetting murder.

And the MSM will hum a merry tune and go on to the next sexual slander against tax protesters.

Merovign on January 4, 2010 at 11:06 PM