Officials: ISIS leader sexually abused U.S. hostage
(CNN) — ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi sexually abused American hostage Kayla Mueller while she was in captivity, U.S. government officials said.
A spokeswoman for Mueller’s family — who learned she was dead in February — confirmed the information to CNN.
“We were told Kayla was tortured, that she was the property of al-Baghdadi. We were told that in June by the government,” the family spokeswoman said Friday, which would have been Mueller’s 27th birthday.
Mueller’s treatment at the hands of the ISIS leader was first reported by The Independent and ABC News. Details of the reports were confirmed to CNN by multiple sources, including the family representative.
Al-Baghdadi was personally involved in arranging for Mueller to be held in the home of a senior ISIS leader, Abu Sayyaf, after the American was captured in northern Syria in 2013. Sources say the ISIS leader would go to Sayyaf’s house where he would sexually abuse Mueller, a humanitarian worker from Prescott, Arizona.
Two Yazidi girls — members of a small Iraqi minority group that have been among those persecuted by ISIS — who also were held in Sayyaf’s compound gave the U.S. government information about what happened.
While al-Baghdadi remains the Islamist extremist group’s top figure, Abu Sayyaf himself is no longer in the picture, having been killed by U.S. Special Forces in a raid last May.
The late terrorist’s wife, Umm Sayyaf, was captured and was in U.S. custody until this week, when she was handed over to Kurdish authorities in Iraq to stand trial. CNN reported previously that she was was talking to American investigators; ABC News reported Friday that Umm Sayyaf confirmed details of how Mueller was treated.
“We do suspect Umm Sayaaf was a member of ISIL and played an important role in ISIL’s terrorist activities,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said last week about her being turned over.
CNN’s Allison Brennan and Greg Botelho contributed to this report.
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