Thursday, February 11, 2016

Carter Meets With Canadian Counterpart to Discuss Counter-ISIL Efforts

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, February 10, 2016 — Defense Secretary Ash Carter met for the first time with Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan today at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said in a readout of the meeting.

NATO defense leaders have gathered in Brussels for two days of meetings, which will include updates on the effort to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

In his discussion with Sajjan, the U.S. defense secretary reinforced the United States' commitment to intensify the fight against ISIL, Cook said. Carter also thanked the minister for Canada's announcement that they intend to triple their training mission in northern Iraq, double their intelligence effort and to expand their humanitarian and development contributions, the press secretary said.

The leaders also discussed Canada’s future contributions to the air campaign through aerial refueling and surveillance operations, he added.

Both Carter and Sajjan agreed that Afghan security forces have made progress in Afghanistan, Cook said, and that they will need additional support going forward.
The two leaders reiterated the unbreakable bonds between the United States and Canada and the importance of the longstanding military ties between the two countries and committed to stay in close communication, the press secretary said.

Military Strikes Hit ISIL Terrorists in Syria, Iraq

From a Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve News Release

SOUTHWEST ASIA, February 11, 2016 — U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.

Officials reported details of the latest strikes, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.

Strikes in Syria

Fighter aircraft conducted one strike in Syria:

-- Near Manbij, a strike destroyed an ISIL structure.

Strikes in Iraq

Attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft and rocket artillery conducted 13 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

-- Near Albu Hayat, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.

-- Near Habbaniyah, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.

-- Near Kirkuk, a strike destroyed eight ISIL fighting positions.

-- Near Kisik, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL tunnel.

-- Near Mosul, three strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL checkpoint, seven ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL assembly area.

-- Near Ramadi, three strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL bunker and denied ISIL access to terrain.

-- Near Sinjar, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.

-- Near Albu Hayat, one strike struck inoperable coalition equipment, denying ISIL access in support of coalition operations.

Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.

Part of Operation Inherent Resolve

The strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to eliminate the ISIL terrorist group and the threat they pose to Iraq, Syria, and the wider international community. The destruction of ISIL targets in Syria and Iraq further limits the terrorist group's ability to project terror and conduct operations, officials said.
Coalition nations conducting strikes in Iraq include the United States, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Jordan, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Coalition nations conducting strikes in Syria include the United States, Australia, Bahrain, Canada, France, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Wife of Dead ISIL Leader Charged in Death of Kayla Jean Mueller

Defendant Charged with Conspiracy to Provide Material Support to ISIL

Nisreen Assad Ibrahim Bahar, aka Umm Sayyaf, 25, an Iraqi citizen and wife of Abu Sayyaf, a senior leader within the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) until his death last year, was charged by criminal complaint today for her role in a conspiracy that resulted in the death of American citizen Kayla Jean Mueller in February 2015.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia and Assistant Director in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.

“The charges filed today allege that Umm Sayyaf and others conspired to provide material support to ISIL and that this conspiracy resulted in the death of Kayla Jean Mueller,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin.  “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.  At the same time, these charges reflect that the U.S. justice system remains a powerful tool to bring to bear against those who harm our citizens abroad.  We will continue to pursue justice for Kayla and for all American victims of terrorism.”

“Kayla Mueller’s kidnapping and death is a tragic reminder of the dangers that ISIL poses to Americans,” said U.S. Attorney Boente.  “We will continue to work alongside the FBI to investigate this case and remain steadfast in our pursuit of justice for the Mueller family.”

“The FBI continues to work tirelessly alongside our partners to hold accountable those who are responsible for the kidnapping and death of Kayla Mueller,” said Assistant Director in Charge Abbate.  “This criminal complaint is another step toward achieving justice in the case.  We will always be relentless in our efforts to identify, locate and arrest those who are responsible for the kidnappings and murders of American citizens.”

According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, in August 2013, on their second full day in northern Syria, Mueller and Individual 1 were kidnapped at gunpoint by masked ISIL soldiers.  Mueller remained an ISIL hostage until her death on or about Feb. 7, 2015.

According to the affidavit, in August 2014, Individual 2 and Individual 3, two young Kurdish women of Yazidi heritage, were forcibly kidnapped by ISIL from their village in northern Iraq.  After their capture, Individual 2 and Individual 3 were taken to a prison in Syria maintained by ISIL where they were held with Mueller.

According to the affidavit, on or about Sept. 24, 2014, Mueller, Individual 2 and Individual 3 were transferred from the ISIL prison to the custody of Abu and Umm Sayyaf.  Abu Sayyaf, who reported directly to ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was ISIL’s minister of oil and gas, and was previously responsible for ISIL’s media program.  The Sayyafs maintained several residences where they forcibly held Mueller, Individual 2 and Individual 3, along with other female captives.  The captives were at various times handcuffed, held in locked rooms, and Mueller was sexually abused by Baghdadi, who forced her to have sex with him.  Umm Sayyaf knew how Mueller was treated by Baghdadi when Mueller was held against her will in Sayyaf’s home.

The Sayyaf residences featured ISIL flags and other ISIL-branded items, and often had numerous firearms open and visible to captives.  For a period of time, a large supply of weapons was maintained in a room of one of the residences for use by ISIL fighters.

According to the affidavit, the Sayyafs held young women who were sold or traded to ISIL men, and the women were characterized as being “owned” by the ISIL men who acquired them.  While Mueller, Individual 2 and Individual 3 were held captive by the Sayyafs, Umm Sayyaf threatened the women, telling them she would kill them if they did not listen to her.

According to the affidavit, on or about May 15, 2015, the U.S. military conducted an operation targeting one of the Sayyaf residences.  During the operation, Abu Sayyaf was killed when he engaged with U.S. military forces and Umm Sayyaf was captured.  Firearms stored at the residence at the time of the operation were seized and are currently in the custody of the FBI.

According to the affidavit, beginning on or about June 17, 2015, Umm Sayyaf was interviewed by FBI agents and admitted that her family belonged to the al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) terrorist organization, the predecessor group to ISIL, and remained members of the terrorist organization when its name changed to ISIL.  The defendant admitted to holding Mueller, Individual 2, Individual 3 and others hostage on behalf of ISIL.  Umm Sayyaf also admitted she had sole responsibility for Mueller, Individual 2, Individual 3 and others in captivity while her husband travelled on ISIL business.  In addition, she admitted to hosting ISIL members, including al-Baghdadi, at her residence.

According to the affidavit, Sayyaf admitted that al-Baghdadi “owned” Mueller during her captivity at the Sayyaf residence and admitted that “owning” is equivalent to slavery.

If convicted, Sayyaf faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.  The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.

The charge in the complaint is merely an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dennis Fitzpatrick of the Eastern District of Virginia and Trial Attorneys Bridget Behling and John Gibbs of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.