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U.S. Charges Widow Of ISIS Leader In Death Of American Kayla Mueller

The wife of a dead ISIS leader has been charged with having a "role in a conspiracy that resulted in the death of American citizen Kayla Mueller in February 2015," Justice Department documents say.

Nisreen Assad Ibrahim Bahar, also known as Umm Sayyaf, is an Iraqi citizen and was the wife of ISIS leader Abu Sayyaf before he was killed in a U.S. military operation last year.

Sayyaf, 25, is charged with conspiracy to provide material support to ISIS in connection with the captivity and death of Mueller, who was an aid worker in Syria when she was taken hostage in August 2013. Mueller's death was confirmed in February 2015. Though the terrorist group said Mueller was killed in a Jordanian airstrike, U.S. officials have maintained that there is no indication of how she died.

Sayyaf has admitted holding Mueller and other captives hostage for ISIS, according to the documents.

"Sayyaf is currently in Iraqi custody for her terrorism-related activities. 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.

According to the affidavit, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi "owned" Mueller while she was in captivity. Sayyaf admitted "ownership" was the equivalent of slavery and knew that al-Baghdadi had repeatedly raped Mueller.

According to the affidavit, "the Sayyaf residences featured ISIL flags and other ISIL-branded items, and often had numerous firearms open and visible to captives."

If convicted, Sayyaf faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, but as NPR's Carrie Johnson notes, it's not clear that Sayyaf will be transferred to the United States to face the charges.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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