ISIS leader’s wife charged in connection with death of US woman

The wife of a former key Islamic militant was charged on Monday with supporting terrorism that helped kill an American woman held hostage in the Middle East.

Umm Sayyaf was captured by American special forces in a raid last May that was focused on her husband, Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) senior leader Abu Sayyaf.

According to the federal indictment handed down on Monday, she and her husband had held 26-year-old American aid worker Kayla Mueller as a slave before her death last year. 

Umm Sayyaf, also known as Nasrin As'ad Ibrahim, was handed over to the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government after the June raid, despite some criticism in the U.S.

“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,” the head of the Justice Department’s national security division, John Carlin, said in a statement on Monday. “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.”

“We will continue to pursue justice for Kayla and for all American victims of terrorism.”

Mueller was kidnapped at gunpoint by masked ISIS fighters in 2013, the indictment declared, and held as a slave for nearly two years along with other female captives. 

“The captives were at various times handcuffed, held in locked rooms, and given orders on a daily basis with respect to their activities, movements, and liberty,” the government charged.

According to the government’s charges, Mueller was raped by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi while she was held captive.

During the course of her interrogation, Umm Sayyaf acknowledged her role and that of her husband’s within ISIS, the government claimed in its charges. Baghdadi “owned” Mueller during the period that she was at the Sayyaf’s house, Umm Sayyaf allegedly told the government.

Last February, ISIS officials claimed that Mueller was accidentally killed in a Jordanian airstrike targeting the extremist group.

Abu Sayyaf was killed in the 2015 special forces raid during which his wife was taken captive.

During the course of her interrogation, FBI special agents read Umm Sayyaf her rights, the indictment on Monday claimed, and she “voluntarily agreed to waive to rights.”

If convicted, Umm Sayyaf faces life in prison.