Five American Terrorists Arrested in Iraq

The U.S. military has arrested five American citizens in recent months for anti-American terrorist activity in Iraq. Oddly, the five have no apparent connection to one another except for shared hatred of their country of citizenship.

U.S. Holding 5 Americans for Iraq Activity (AP – WaPo)

The U.S. military is holding five U.S. citizens suspected of insurgent activities in Iraq, a Pentagon spokesman said Wednesday. They were captured separately and don’t appear to have ties to one another, spokesman Bryan Whitman said. He declined to identify them, citing a Pentagon policy that prohibits identification of detainees.

Three of those being detained are Iraqi-Americans; another is an Iranian-American; the fifth is a Jordanian-American, Whitman said. The three Iraqi-Americans were captured in April, May and June, officials said. The Iranian-American was captured May 17, one official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the cases. One of the Iraqi-Americans allegedly had knowledge of planning for an attack, and another was possibly involved in a kidnapping, Whitman said. The third was “engaged in suspicious activity,” he said, declining to be more specific.

Whitman said the Iranian-American was captured with several dozen washing machine timers in his car –items that can be used as components in bombs. In Los Angeles, relatives identified him as Cyrus Kar, 44, a U.S. Navy veteran who lives in that city. He was in Iraq to film scenes for a documentary on King Cyrus the Great, founder of Persia, when he was arrested at a checkpoint in Baghdad in mid-May, his family said. They also said he has been cleared of wrongdoing and there is no legal authority for his detention. They said he called them on May 24 and said he had been detained because of a misunderstanding involving a taxi driver who had been driving Kar and his cameraman around Baghdad. Kar was born in Iran but came to the United States when he was a child, according to reports in the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times.

The Jordanian-American was captured in a raid late last year and is suspected of high-level ties to Abu Musab Zarqawi, the Jordanian terrorist and leading al-Qaida ally in Iraq. Officials announced his capture in March.

All five are in custody at one of the three U.S.-run prisons in Iraq _ Abu Ghraib, Camp Bucca or Camp Cropper, Whitman said, declining to provide their precise location. The International Committee of the Red Cross has had access to all five prisoners, Whitman said.

A panel of three U.S. officers rules on whether each prisoner is properly held; that has already taken place for the Jordanian-American. Whitman did not say whether the three Iraqi-Americans or the Iranian-American have been through this process.

via Rusty Shackleford, who agrees with Eugene Volokh and Jay Tea that this is textbook “treason.” It’s hard to disagree, unless one considers them de facto expatriots.

Update: Jay points out that “expatriates” is the correct spelling. I like mine better, however, and hope to start a trend.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. flydiveski says:

    Go see this NYTimes story on the Iranian-american for another view:

  2. Jay Tea says:

    I think you mean “Expatriates” in this context, but I rather like your “expatriots.” Nice play on words.


  3. Anderson says:

    Hey, I’m all for executing these guys if they’re convicted, but considering that at least one is being held for unnamed “suspicious activity,” can we hold off a bit on assuming they’re the traitorous dogs we’ve assumed?

    If we’re to the point where the government merely alleges “X is a traitor!” and our only response is “Die, traitor!” then we are well down the road away from the Constitution.

  4. Scott in CA says:

    Anderson is right, but if these guys were actually giving aid and comfort to the enemy in time of war, then it really is treason. Lord, what a trial that would be. Can you imagine – shot at sunrise on the Mall.

  5. Nate says:

    Having attended the ACLU press conference regarding Cyrus Kar this morning in Los Angeles, I can report that Mr. Kar is a Navy veteran who supported the invasion of Iraq, and who hangs an American flag over his bed. When he was “captured” on May 23, he was riding in a taxi, not his own car, and had secured permission from both the U.S. and Iraqi governments to visit Iraq in order to produce a documentary film on Cyrus the Great. He gave the FBI permission to search his apartment in LA; after seizing and returning his belongings, the FBI reported to Mr. Kar’s family that he had been “cleared.” And yet he remains detained. It has been fifty days now.

    As I understand the term, “treason” is a crime for which to be convicted a person must first stand trial. I also understand that American citizens, when arrested or detained, are guaranteed due process of law. The only exception is when habeus corpus has been suspended; unless I missed something, that has not happened. To my mind, the true “expatriots” are those who would fail to defend one of the core protections afforded by the Fifth Amendment of our Constitution, those who would unquestioningly allow the federal government to indefinitely detain American citizens without due process. A true patriot would maintain a healthy skepticism when it comes to governmental overreaching. Conservatives have traditionally maintained such a skepticism, and just last year Justice O’Connor wrote that “We have long since made clear that a state of war is not a blank check for the President when it comes to the rights of the Nation’s citizens.”

    But is that true? Have we long since made this clear? It appears that some readers, even after the Supreme Court’s pronouncement, are content to idly stand by and and watch as the President continues to write bad checks. Checks that will ultimately spend down and then bankrupt our most precious resource: our civil rights.

  6. LJD says:

    Nate makes a good point, although I would not have started it with “Having attended the ACLU press conference…”

    That said, I do not subscribe to the theory that we are holding any one, especially an American citizen, without cause. Unless the Army can make this guy disappear forever, he would have one hell of a lawsuit, book deal, etc. if he were truly being held in violation of his Constitutional rights. Further, the fact that the Army does not release any information, in spite of the media criticism, tells me they are content with what they have on him.

    What bothers me is the insinuation that we are out targeting journalists. I the following comment in my search for information on this:

    “I think the Americans have gotten a lot more trigger-happy and twitchy after the campaign of car bombs and other violence. […..]”

    This is totally absurd, and exposes the author’s willingness to make false assuptions about what is happening in Iraq.

    The ACLU has gotten Mr. Kar’s name out there, so he cannot be “erased”. We will be hearing more about him soon. My prediction is that the Army will come up with the information the ACLU is lacking.