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Friday, June 21, 2024 | Back issues
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Terrorist’s Wife Charged in American’s Death

(CN) - Prosecutors say the wife of a dead ISIL leader helped hold American citizen Kayla Mueller captive from her 2013 kidnapping until her death less than two years later.

Nisreen Assad Ibrahim Bahar aka Umm Sayyaf was charged Monday with conspiring to provide support to a terrorist organization in connection with Mueller's death.

Mueller and another person were kidnapped at gunpoint in August 2013 by masked soldiers of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, according to Sayyaf's criminal complaint.

Prosecutors say that, in September 2014, the captives were transferred from an ISIL prison to the custody of Sayyaf and her husband, Abu Sayyaf, who served as ISIL's minister for oil and gas. Sayyaf's husband reported directly to ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the 9-page complaint states.

The Sayyafs had multiple houses where they kept female captives, who were chastised, shown ISIL propaganda videos and sexually abused, prosecutors allege.

"Ms. Mueller and the other young women had no freedom and were compelled to serve at the behest of the ISIL men. The young women were characterized as being 'owned' by the ISIL men who acquired them," the complaint states. "While in captivity, Kayla Jean Mueller was sexually abused by Baghdadi, who forced her to have sex with him."

A U.S. military operation in May 2015 resulted in the capture of Sayyaf and the death of her husband. However, it was too late to save Mueller.

"ISIL notified Ms. Mueller's family of Ms. Mueller's death in an email communication on or about Feb. 7, 2015," the complaint states. "Ms. Mueller remained a hostage of ISIL from her capture in August 2013 until her death."

Sayyaf, 25, admitted to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents that her and her family were members of ISIL and that she "admired the courage and strength" of the terrorist group, according to the complaint. She also allegedly admitted to holding Mueller and the other captives hostage.

"The defendant admitted that ISIL members, including Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, would stay at her residence on an as-needed basis," the complaint states. "The defendant admitted that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi 'owned' Ms. Mueller during the period of time that Ms. Mueller was in captivity at the Sayyaf residence. The defendant admitted that 'owning' is equivalent to slavery."

Sayyaf faces a maximum of life in prison if she is convicted.

In 2014, the U.S. terrorist designation for al-Qaida in Iraq was amended to include ISIL.

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