ALEXANDRIA, Va. – An Iraqi woman, a senior Islamic State official’s wife, was accused of taking hostage an American aid worker who was abducted in 2013 in the Syrian city of Aleppo and killed last year. Kayla Mueller, the victim, had traveled to the region to help refugees escape the civil war.

Federal prosecutors filed a criminal charge on Monday against Umm Sayyaf or Nisreen Assad Ibrahim Bahar, who was taken into custody last May after a U.S. commando assault in eastern Syria. Her husband was killed in the raid.

Ms Mueller was an aid worker in Syria before being taken captive by IS. Credit: BBC News/Daily Courier/Prescott AZ
Ms Mueller was an aid worker in Syria before being taken captive by IS. Credit: BBC News/Daily Courier/Prescott AZ

The Iraqi woman was charged in federal court in Alexandria, Va., with conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist group resulting in the death of Mueller. Federal prosecutors and Justice Department officials spent months debating charges in Sayyaf’s case.

The 26-year-old victim, from Prescott, Ariz., was repeatedly abused and raped by Sayyaf’s husband and the Iraqi woman played a key role in her imprisonment, authorities allege.

According to The Washington Post, Sayyaf was taken to a U.S. air base located near the Iraqi Kurdish city of Irbil, where she was questioned by the FBI-led High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group. She was then repeatedly interviewed by FBI agents from the Washington Field Office, who were working on a criminal case against Sayyaf for a prosecution in federal court.

Sayyaf acknowledged that she and her ISIS commander husband were responsible for taking hostage the American aid worker and other captives, and that she believed Mueller had been in custody for ransom or other form of prisoner exchange, according to an affidavit by William H. Heaney, FBI Special Agent.

The affidavit also states Sayyaf admitted that the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and other militants sometimes stayed at her home, where she and her husband used to store large amounts of cash from ISIS’s oil and gas businesses. Their home was used to store firearms as well.

It seems unlikely that the Iraqi woman will ever be transferred to the United States, but FBI agents and federal prosecutors believe that Mueller’s family might be comforted to hear from charges in the case.

U.S. intelligence officials say they still do not know how the victim was killed, but ISIS announced in February that Mueller had died after a Jordanian fighter jet dropped a bomb on the building where she was being held. Militants sent pictures of Mueller’s body to her family.

Source: Washington Post