IS captive reveals helping CIA hunt for Baghdadi

London: The most senior female Islamic State (IS) captive has played a central role in the CIA’s hunt Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, helping identify safe houses used by the fugitive terror leader and in one case pinpointing his location in Mosul, Iraq, the Guardian reported.

The captive, Nisrine Assad Ibrahim, better known as Umm Sayyaf, has helped the CIA and Kurdish intelligence officers build a detailed portrait of Baghdadi’s movements, hideouts and networks, investigators have disclosed.

The claims have been confirmed by Umm Sayyaf, 29, in her first interview since being captured in a Delta Force raid in Syria four years ago that killed her husband, Fathi Ben Awn Ben Jildi Murad al-Tunis, a close friend of Baghdadi’s and also the then IS oil minister.

Umm Sayyaf is a highly controversial figure who has been accused of involvement in some of the terror group’s most heinous crimes, including the enslavement of the captured US aid worker Kayla Mueller and several Yazidi women and girls, who were raped by senior IS leaders.

She was sentenced to death by a court in Erbil, and spoke to the Guardian, from a prison in the Iraqi city.

Regarding a house in Mosul she had identified in 2016 where Baghdadi was believed to have been staying, she said: “I told them where the house was. I knew he’d been there because it was one of the houses that was provided for him, and one of the places he liked the most.”

Her marriage had given her more proximity to Baghdadi than nearly all other IS women. As one of the organisation’s most important wives, she had rare access to meetings and personal discussions and was present several times when Baghdadi recorded audio propaganda messages in the home she shared with her husband.

“He used to do that in our sitting room in Taji (a town in central Iraq)… My husband was the (IS) media chief then, and Baghdadi would visit often.”

Umm Sayyaf at first refused to cooperate with her captors. But by early 2016, she had begun to reveal some of the organisation’s most sensitive secrets.

She pored over maps and photographs laid out on a table in front of her, alongside American men. “They were very polite and wore civilian clothes,” she told the Guardian. “I showed them everything I knew.”

Of Baghdadi’s current whereabouts, Umm Sayyaf suggested he had returned to Iraq, where he always felt safer.

“He never felt good in Syria, he always wanted to be in Iraq. He would only come to do something and leave. The last I heard of him, he wanted to go to Qaim and Bukamal, but that was some time ago.”

Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney has requested Umm Sayyaf’s transfer from Iraq to the US to face justice for her crimes. She told the UN security council in April that Umm Sayyaf “locked them (the captives) in a room, instigated their beatings and put makeup on them to ‘prepare them for rape'”.