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Iraqi woman charged with role in Kayla Mueller’s death

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS / THE DAILY COURIER / MAY 2013

    In this 2013 file photo, Kayla Mueller is shown after speaking to a group in Prescott, Ariz. The wife of a former senior leader of the Islamic State has been charged in federal court with contributing to the death of Mueller. The Justice Department today announced charges against 25-year-old Nisreen Assad Ibrahim Bahar, who’s also known as Umm Sayyaf.

WASHINGTON » The wife of a senior Islamic State leader killed in a U.S. raid last year has been charged in federal court with contributing to the death of American hostage Kayla Mueller, the Justice Department said today.

A criminal complaint accuses Nisreen Assad Ibrahim Bahar, also known as Umm Sayyaf, and her husband of holding Mueller captive, where officials say she was repeatedly forced to have sex with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State group.

The case was brought in the Eastern District of Virginia, though Umm Sayyaf is currently in Iraqi custody and facing prosecution there. Justice Department officials say they support that prosecution, but they’ll continue to “pursue justice for Kayla.”

Her husband, Islamic State financer Abu Sayyaf, was killed in a Delta Force raid of his Syrian compound in June.

“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.”

A Yazidi teenager who was held with Mueller and escaped in October 2014 said al-Baghdadi took Mueller as a “wife,” repeatedly raping her when he visited. The 14-year-old Yazidi girl made her way to Iraqi Kurdistan, where she talked to U.S. commandos in November 2014. Intelligence agencies corroborated her account and American officials passed it on to Mueller’s parents in June 2015.

The complaint echoes assertions from U.S. intelligence officials, who had told Mueller’s family that their daughter was repeatedly forced to have sex with al-Baghdadi.

Her parents have said that Umm Sayyaf also confirmed to American interrogators that al-Baghdadi had “owned” their daughter.

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