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Tuesday 16 January 2018

US to 'interrogate' Islamic State leader's wife over hostages

The US did not inform Syria about its raid on Islamic State
The US did not inform Syria about its raid on Islamic State

Mark Hosenball

The captured wife of a senior Islamic State leader who was killed in a weekend raid by the United States is to be questioned over what she knew about the group's treatment of hostages.

The US government believes Umm Sayyaf, wife to senior ISIS leader Abu Sayyaf, was involved in handling foreign hostages, including Kayla Mueller, an American aid worker who was killed in February.

On Saturday, US military personnel based in Iraq carried out a raid in eastern Syria aimed at capturing Abu Sayyaf and his wife

The ISIS commander was targeted as he was believed to be a key figure in the group's oil, gas and financial operations.

Read More: US did not warn Syrian government of special forces raid against Islamic State

Umm Sayyaf was captured by US forces, but Abu Sayyaf, alongside 32 ISIS fighters, was killed after "engaging US forces," the White House said.

US commandos freed a Yazidi woman who appeared to have been "held as a slave" by Abu Sayyaf and his wife.

Umm Sayyaf is likely be questioned by members of the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG), an interagency unit created after President Barack Obama closed down a CIA counter-terrorism program widely criticized for its use of torture.

Read More: 500 killed as key Iraqi city of Ramadi falls to Islamic State terror group

US officials said they believed Abu Sayyaf had some direct interaction with Mueller and other hostages although they said his wife's role would likely have been limited.

Islamic State militants are still believed to be holding other Westerners hostage, including British journalist John Cantlie.


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