Kayla Mueller's captor: Iraqi woman charged, but extradition to US uncertain
Umm Sayyaf reportedly told Iraqi officials that she held the American aid worker captive. Ms. Sayyaf is currently being held on terrorism charges in her native Iraq.
Jo. L. Keener/The Daily Courier/AP/File
The wife of a deceased leader of the Islamic State terrorist group, has been charged with having a role in a conspiracy that resulted in the death of American aid worker Kayla Mueller in February 2015, the US Justice Department said.
Nisreen Assad Ibrahim Bahar, also known as Umm Sayyaf, is an Iraqi citizen and was the wife of leader Abu Sayyaf, the former Islamic State leader, who was killed in a US military operation at a Delta Force raid of his compound, last year.
Ms. Sayyaf is currently in Iraqi custody and faces prosecution for her terrorism-related activities and it is not clear when or if she will be extradited to the US to stand trial.
"We fully support the Iraqi prosecution of Sayyaf and will continue to work with the authorities there to pursue our shared goal of holding Sayyaf accountable for her crimes," Assistant Attorney General John Carlin, head of the Justice Department's national security division, said in a statement.
"At the same time, these charges reflect that the U.S. justice system remains a powerful tool to bring to bear against those who harm our citizens abroad,” he added. “We will continue to pursue justice for Kayla and for all American victims of terrorism.”
Prosecutors say Sayyaf kept Mueller captive, allowing her to be repeatedly raped by the militant group's chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. After her capture last May, Sayyaf told officers that her husband kept Mueller captive along with several other young female hostages, and admitted that she was responsible for Mueller's captivity while her husband traveled for Islamic State business.
Sayyaf told the officials that Mr. al-Baghdadi "owned" Mueller while she was in captivity, and admitted that "ownership" was the equivalent of slavery, according to the FBI.
As previously reported ISIS announced its revival of institutional slavery in 2014, and the group has systematically enslaved and raped thousands of women from the minority Yazidi community, according to New York Times reporter Rukmini Callimachi.
“The Islamic State has developed a detailed bureaucracy of sex slavery, including sales contracts notarized by the ISIS-run Islamic courts,” writes Ms. Callimachi.
Mueller was captured alongside her boyfriend, Omar Alkhani, in August 2013, as they were leaving a Spanish Doctors Without Borders hospital in Aleppo, Syria. She had begged Mr. Alkhani to let her tag along because she wanted to do relief work in the war-ravaged country. Alkhani was released two months later, after he was badly beaten.
Sayyaf is being charged with providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization that resulted in a person's death, and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.
This report contains material from Reuters and the Associated Press.