Umm Sayyaf

04.04.2022
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Facts

Umm Sayyaf and her husband, Abu Sayyaf al-Iraqi (Abu Sayyaf), a senior ISIL leader, are accused to have enslaved at least seven Yazidi girls and American aid worker Kayla Mueller in their home in Al-Shaddadi, Syria.

While enslaved, they were allegedly subjected to torture, rape and sexual violence, beatings, and starvation. Umm Sayyaf allegedly routinely prepared and led the women and girls to be raped by ISIL militants, including by Umm Sayyaf’s husband and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader and self- proclaimed caliph of ISIL. Mueller was reportedly killed, and Inas was never seen again.

In May 2015, US Special Operations forces raided the home, capturing Umm Sayyaf and liberating a Yazidi victim. Abu Sayyaf was killed in the raid. US forces eventually transferred Umm Sayyaf to the custody of the KRG in Iraq.

Procedure

On 9 February 2016, US prosecutors filed a criminal complaint in the Eastern District of Virginia against Umm Sayyaf with a single count under 18 U.S.C. §2339(b) for “knowingly and intentionally […] conspir[ing] to provide material support to a terrorist organization.” Umm Sayyaf is not charged with sexual violence, enslavement, torture, and genocide for the crimes committed against the women and girls she enslaved.

Meanwhile, the KRG launched criminal proceedings against Umm Sayyaf in Erbil. No witnesses appear to have been examined. The trial was closed to victims and the media. Sometime in the spring of 2016, Umm Sayyaf was reportedly convicted of a crime related to ISIL membership. Details surrounding the Iraqi trial and sentencing of Umm Sayyaf remain unclear.

In 2021, the Yazidi survivors submitted a motion in US federal court asking that the US government respect their rights under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act (CVRA). Specifically, they requested that the US government recognize them as “victims” under the CVRA and provide them with information about the proceedings in Iraq against Umm Sayyaf, including the charges, conviction, sentence and detention, and any effort from the US government to extradite or transfer Umm Sayyaf to the US to face charges.

While the US government and the federal court ultimately acknowledged that the Yazidis were entitled to CVRA rights, including any supplemental information about Umm Sayyaf’s transfer, the court denied their request for additional information regarding the proceedings in Iraq.

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