On November 5, Turkish officials said the arrest of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s
sister Rasmiya Awad would yield valuable intelligence about ISIS.
The arrest was reportedly made on November 4 in an area of Aleppo province
now under Turkey’s control.
Rasmiya Awad was found in a trailer, where she was living with her husband,
daughter-in-law and five children, a Turkish official told AP news agency,
adding she was being interrogated on suspicion of involvement with an extremist
Experts say the town where Rasmiya Awad was captured is a known smuggling
route for ISIS families.
President Trump announced Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s death at a press conference
at the White House on October 27.
The president said DNA tests had been carried out to verify Baghdadi’s
identity, confirming his death.
After the raid, the compound was destroyed in an air strike.
Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Qurashi has since been named as ISIS’ new leader and “caliph”.
Gen. Kenneth McKenzie also could not confirm President Donald Trump’s
graphic description of Baghdadi whimpering and crying as he died.
“He crawled into a hole with two
small children and blew himself up while his people stayed on the ground. You
can deduce what kind of person it is based on that activity,” he told
a news conference at the Pentagon.
“That would be my empirical
observation of what he did. I’m not able to confirm anything else about his
last seconds. I just can’t confirm that one way or another.”
He said four women – who were wearing suicide vests – and one man were
killed at the compound.
Gen McKenzie said an unknown number of fighters also died after opening fire
on US helicopters.
He added: “I want to make it
clear that despite the high-pressure and high-profile nature of this assault
that every effort was made to avoid civilian casualties and to protect children
we suspected would be in the compound.”
He confirmed that Baghdadi had been identified through his DNA – adding that
samples had been on file since the ISIS leader’s detention in an Iraqi prison
Gen McKenzie said Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s remains were flown back to a staging base for identification and were then buried at sea within 24 hours of his death “in accordance with the laws of armed conflict”.
American volunteer Kayla Mueller who was killed in February while held hostage by Islamic State (ISIS) militants in Syria, was abused by the group’s top leader, officials tell ABC News.
Kayla Mueller, 26, from Prescott, Arizona, was repeatedly raped by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, they said.
She travelled to the Turkey-Syria border in 2012 to work with refugees.
Counterterrorism officials made the Food for Life volunteer’s family aware of the abuse in June.
Kayla Mueller was abducted while working in Aleppo, Syria, in 2013. ISIS said she was killed in a Jordanian air strike, but the US blames ISIS for her death.
“We were told Kayla was tortured, that she was the property of Baghdadi. We were told that in June by the government,” Kayla’s parents, Carl and Marsha, told ABC News.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi personally took the American aid worker to the home of another senior ISIS member – Abu Sayyaf – who was in charge of ISIS oil and gas until his death in a US special forces operation in May, says ABC News, citing US officials.
The channel said Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi regularly visited the compound where Kayla Mueller was being held and repeatedly assaulted her.
Officials said they had obtained information about the abuse from at least two teenage Yazidi girls who were held hostage as s** slaves and found inside the Sayyaf compound at the time of the US attack.
Kayla Mueller was reportedly held for some time by Abu Sayyaf and his wife, Umm Sayyaf, who was also captured by US special forces in May.
At the time, the Pentagon said Umm Sayyaf was suspected of being an ISIS member and of being complicit in the enslavement of a young Yazidi woman who was rescued in the raid.
Hundreds of young women and girls – many of them Yazidis captured in northern Iraq – are believed to be held as slaves by ISIS militants in areas under their control.
The Yazidi girls provided intelligence used by the US to interrogate Abu Sayyaf’s wife, who “spilled everything” about several ISIS leaders and their whereabouts, a counterterrorism official told ABC.
Umm Sayyaf was handed over to the Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq last week to face trial.
The information that has come to light appears to contradict speculation that Kayla Mueller was treated well in captivity, as a letter written in 2014 and smuggled out to her family implied.
In that letter, Kayla Mueller tried to reassure her family, saying that she had been treated with “utmost respect + kindness”.
Islamic State (ISIS) militants have released an audiotape they say was recorded by the group leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, days after reports that he had been killed or injured.
In the recording, released via social media, the speaker says ISIS fighters will never stop fighting “even if only one soldier remains”.
Correspondents say the recording appears authentic and recent.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was said to have been caught in a US-led air strike near the Iraqi city of Mosul last week.
Thursday’s 17-minute recording makes no direct reference to that air strike, but does mention some developments that have occurred since then.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was said to have been caught in a US-led air strike near the Iraqi city of Mosul
An English transcript of the recording was also released.
Meanwhile, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the US-led coalition fighting ISIS was making progress, but must “prepare for a long and difficult struggle”.
The ISIS audiotape mentions President Barack’s Obama decision to deploy an extra 1,500 troops to Iraq – a move announced shortly after the air strike on Mosul.
The recording calls on ISIS supporters to “erupt volcanoes of jihad” across the world.
He disparages opponents of ISIS as “Jews, Crusaders, apostates… [and] devils”, and says the US and its allies “are terrified, weak and powerless”.
The recording also calls for attacks in Saudi Arabia – describing Saudi leaders as “the head of the snake” – and says that the US-led military campaign in Syria and Iraq is failing.
Gulf state rulers, who have joined the US-led coalition against IS, are described as “treacherous”.
The recording also refers to new pledges of allegiance from jihadist groups in Libya, Egypt and Yemen that occurred in recent days.
“O soldiers of the Islamic State… erupt volcanoes of jihad everywhere. Light the earth with fire against all dictators,” the voice on the recording says.
In contrast to the audio messaging disparaging the coalition efforts, Chuck Hagel said US-led air strikes had helped in “degrading and destroying ISIL’s [ISIS] war fighting capacity and in denying safe haven to its fighters”.
“Directly and through support of Iraqi forces, coalition air strikes have hit ISIL’s command and control, its leadership, its revenue sources… and impaired its ability to amass forces,” he added.
The self-styled Islamic State – a jihadist group also known as ISIS, or ISIL – has seized swathes of Syria and Iraq since June, declaring a caliphate over territory it controls.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi himself is a shadowy figure who only showed himself publicly for the first time in a video released in July, when he delivered a sermon in Mosul, Iraq.
He claims lineage from the family and tribe of the Prophet Muhammad.
Although currently limited to Iraq and Syria, ISIS has promised to “break the borders” of Jordan and Lebanon and to “free Palestine”.
A caliphate is an Islamic state ruled by a single political and religious leader, or Caliph.
Caliphs are regarded by their followers as successors to the Prophet Muhammad and the leader of all Muslims.
The word “caliph” comes from the Arabic khalifa, meaning “successor”. Its use means the IS claims Baghdadi as the only legitimate successor to the Prophet.
Abdulmecid II was the last Sunni Caliph of Islam from the Ottoman Dynasty (photo flickr.com)
First caliphate came into being after Prophet Muhammad’s death in 632. In the centuries which followed, caliphates had dominion in the Middle East and North Africa.
Historically, caliphates involved governance under Islamic law, with the leadership elected according to Sunni practice and selected from a group of Imams under Shia traditions.
Laws under a caliphate are traditionally defined in accordance with Islamic ethics. In the past the role of caliph has largely been symbolic, leaving the day-to-day running of government down to the devolved powers of local rulers.
The last widely accepted caliphate was abolished in 1924 by Turkish leader Kemal Ataturk after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Abdulmecid II was the last ruler of a caliphate.
In 2014, Islamist militant group ISIS has declared caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria, appointing its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as Caliph.
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