Late ISIS leader's wife transferred from U.S. to Iraqi custody

Commander's wife captured, played role in terror
Commander's wife captured, played role in terror

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Story highlights

  • Umm Sayyaf is being held by Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish government, U.S. says
  • She was the wife of Abu Sayyaf, an ISIS leader killed in a U.S. military raid in Syria

(CNN)Umm Sayyaf -- the widow of an ISIS leader killed by U.S. Special Operations Forces -- was transferred from U.S. custody to the Iraqi government, the Defense Department said Thursday.

Sayyaf, also known as Nasrin As'ad Ibrahim, was married to Abu Sayyaf, a key ISIS commander. In May 2015, Abu Sayyaf -- also known as Fathi Ben Awn Ben Jildi Murad al-Tunisi -- was killed in a U.S. military raid in eastern Syria.
Shorty thereafter, Umm Sayyaf was captured by U.S. forces and was held in Iraq. She's suspected of being a member of ISIS.
    Sayyaf was transferred after the U.S. government determined such a move would "be appropriate with respect to legal, diplomatic, intelligence, security, and law enforcement considerations," the Pentagon said in a statement. Officials said the transfer is consistent with U.S. policy.
    Umm Sayyaf is being held by the Iraqi Kurdistan regional government's Interior Ministry, according to the U.S. military. Kurdistan is a semiautonomous region in northeastern Iraq that has its own fighters battling ISIS.
    Abu Sayyaf oversaw ISIS oil and gas operations, an integral source of the terror group's revenue, National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said after Sayyaf's death.
    The United States has been considering the possibility that wives of ISIS figures may play a significant role in the Sunni Islamist extremist group's operations.
    Meehan said at the time that Umm Sayyaf "played an important role in ISIL's terrorist activities." ISIL is an acronym commonly used by U.S. authorities for ISIS, which calls itself the Islamic state.
    U.S. officials believe the couple possessed information about American and Western hostages in Syria.
    Defense Secretary Ash Carter said then that Abu Sayyaf's death was a "significant blow" to ISIS.