Wife of Islamic State leader charged in US hostage death

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An Islamic State flag hangs amid electric wires over a street in Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp, near the port-city of Sidon, southern Lebanon on January 19, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Ali Hashisho

An Islamic State flag hangs amid electric wires over a street in Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp, near the port-city of Sidon, southern Lebanon on January 19, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Ali Hashisho

WASHINGTON —  The wife of a now-deceased Islamic State leader has been charged for her alleged role in last year’s death of American aid worker Kayla Jean Mueller.

Nisreen Assad Ibrahim Bahar, 25, the widow of former ISIS leader Abu Sayyaf, allegedly conspired to provide support to the terrorist group, often forcibly holding Mueller in the couple’s homes where she was subjected to repeated sexual abuse by ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Mueller died in February 2015.

Bahar, also known as Umm Sayyaf, “knew how Mueller was treated by Baghdadi when Mueller was held against her will in Sayyaf’s home,” federal prosecutors said when the charges were announced Monday (Feb. 8).

“The Sayyafs held young women who were sold or traded to ISIL men, and the women were characterized as being owned by the ISIL (another acronym for the Islamic State) men who acquired them,” the government documents allege. While Mueller, who was kidnapped in 2013 by ISIL soldiers, was being held with two other women, Umm Sayyaf allegedly threatened them, asserting that she would “kill them if they did not listen to her.”

Umm Sayyaf, now being held on terror-related charges in Iraq, allegedly admitted to FBI agents last summer that she was chiefly responsible for Mueller and other hostages while her husband traveled. On those occasions, she acknowledged hosting ISIL members and al-Baghdadi at her home.

“Sayyaf admitted that al-Baghdadi owned Mueller during her captivity at the Sayyaf residence and (she) admitted that owning is the equivalent of slavery,” prosecutors said.

“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 said.

If convicted, Sayyaf faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.

(Kevin Johnson writes for USA Today)

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  • David Lloyd-Jones

    But she can claim that Senator Cruz, like most Republicans, believes threatening and hurting captives is OK….

    The captives she was holding were taken, after all, in a Republican war, in which President Bush from 2002 to 2006 suspended American compliance with the Geneva Accords.

    Only in 2006 did the military, which had objected to the White House policy all along, succeed in having the Accords respected. This happened after the Supreme Court forced the Bush Administration to live up to the Accords’ being the law of the land in the US. Pentagon pressure, the professional military, not little Donnie Rumsfeld, Feith, Yoo, Cheney and the gang, resulted in this wise judgement being applied abroad as well — but rather late.

    -dlj.

  • Jack

    Your response should make any decent human being’s flesh crawl. Even most people who are totally against waterboarding do not make the sort of moral equivalence or implication of causality that you do. Even the worst of the worst that individual American service people might have done in Iraq does not compare with the sexual slavery of ISIS and the killing of an innocent aid worker.

    But thanks for placing the moral sickness of the extremist left on a bold, neon sign for all to see.

    Further, if you watched the GOP debate, it was Trump, not Cruz, who was foaming at the mouth about waterboarding and more. Cruz showed a clear reluctance on the subject.