Slain ISIS Leader's Wife Charged in Death of American Hostage
The wife of a senior Islamic State leader was charged for her role in the kidnapping and death of American hostage Kayla Mueller.
Nisreen Assad Ibrahim Bahar, also known as Umm Sayyaf, is a 25 year old citizen of Iraq. She's also the former wife of senior ISIS leader Abu Sayyaf, the Islamic State's minister of oil and gas, who was killed last year in a U.S. raid.
Umm Sayyaf admited last May that she and her husband held several female hostages captive last year, including aid worker Kayla Mueller who died in their captivity.
Umm Sayyaf was charged in a Virginia Federal court this week with the conspiracy that resulted in Kayla Mueller's death. If convicted she faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.
John P. Carlin, the Assistant Attorney General for National Security released a statement calling Mueller's kidnapping and death "a tragic reminder" of the threat the Islamic State poses to Americans.
Mueller, orginally from Arizona, was an relief worker for Doctors Without Borders in Syria when she and several others were kidnapped at gunpoint by masked Islamic State jihadists in 2013. After her kidnapping Mueller was held captive in the Sayyaf residence until her death in February of last year.
The hostages were reportedly immobilized with handcuffs and held in locked rooms. According to police reports, Mueller was "owned" by top Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Sayyaf admitted that Baghdadi repeatedly raped and tortured Mueller during her inprisonment.
The Sayyaf residence was decorated with ISIS flags and paraphernalia. Their home was the epicenter of a stockpile of firearms for use by ISIS jihadists. They often kept loaded weapons visible to their hostages and threatened to murder them if they did not obey.
Weapons were not the only things the Sayyaf's trafficked. Umm Sayyaf admitted that her residence functioned as a holding ground for young women who were sold or traded by ISIS militants into sexual slavery.
The U.S. military conducted a raid targeting the Sayyaf's on May 15, 2015. The operation resulted in Abu Sayyaf's death and the seizure of all the firearms stored in the Sayyaf residence.
Umm Sayyaf was aprehended and interviewed by the FBI. She told FBI agents her family was apart of al-Qaeda and she was a member of the Islamic State. Sayyaf admitted to holding Mueller, saying she had sole responsibility for her. She also confessed to hosting numerous high profile ISIS members in her home.
According Carlin, "Sayyaf is currently in Iraqi custody for her terrorism-related activities. We fully support the prosecution of Sayyaf and will continue to work with the authorities there to pursue our shared goal of holding Sayyaf accountable for her crimes."
"At the same time, these charges reflect that the U.S justice system remains a powerful tool to bring to bear those who harm our citizens abroad. We will continue to pursue justice for Kayla and for all American victims of terrorism," Carlin concluded.