WH: Captured ISIS leaders being handled case by case

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2016/03/04/wh-captured-isis-leaders-being-handled-case-by-case/

(CNSNews.com) – At President Obama’s direction, the U.S. military is sending expeditionary teams to capture and interrogate Islamic State leaders in Iraq and Syria, but instead of sending them to Guantanamo Bay, these enemies of the United States are being handled on a case by case basis.

One ISIS operative captured last May — a woman named Umm Sayyaf — “is currently in the Kurdish criminal justice system,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on Wednesday.

“I think what the Department of Defense will tell you is that they’ll have to make their own determinations about the best way to handle these individual cases,” Earnest said.

For security reasons, he refused to discuss the details of any recent U.S. raids, except for the one in Syria last May, where U.S. Special Operators killed ISIS leader Abu Sayyaf and captured his wife, Umm Sayyaf. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said at the time that Umm Sayyaf played an important role in ISIL’s terrorist activities.  She is suspected of enslaving young women, including American Kayla Mueller, who later died in captivity.

Press reports on Wednesday said U.S. Special Operators are now interrogating an ISIS leader who was seized in Northern Iraq last month. “It is believed to be the first case of a top ISIS militant captured alive in that country,” the British newspaper The Guardian reported.

“At this point, I can’t discuss the details of any missions, particularly when it comes to risking operational security,” Earnest told reporters on Wednesday. But I can tell you that one of the goals of this expeditionary task force is to…capture ISIL leaders, but these operations will be carried out in coordination and in partnership with the government of Iraq.

“Any detention of ISIL leaders in Iraq would be short-term and coordinated with Iraqi authorities, and one of the things that you know about the one raid that’s been…reported publicly is that the individual who was detained in that raid was an individual who was subjected to an interrogation where important intelligence information was obtained, and then that person (Umm Sayyaf) was then…turned over to Kurdish authorities and is currently in the Kurdish criminal justice system.”

Earnest would not say how many Islamic State fighters have been detained since the raid on the Sayyafs in May, nor could he say where those individuals would be held long-term.

“Well, this — this — I can rule out a couple of things. These individuals would not be transferred to the prison at Guantanamo Bay. This is — there’s no one that’s been transferred to that prison in the — during President Obama’s seven years in office. Our goal is to close that prison. Adding to that population would be contradictory to that goal.”

A reporter asked Earnest, “So none of these individuals will ever come to the United States?”

“Again, you’ll have to check with the Department of Defense about how they would resolve those cases,” Earnest replied.

A reporter noted that the U.S. Department of Justice has issued a warrant for Umm Sayyaf’s arrest: “So why would someone like that not be brought to the United States to answer to a — a — a warrant issued by the Department of Justice?”

“Well, you’d have to talk to the Department of Justice about that,” Earnest replied. He said the U.S. warrant for Umm Sayyaf relates to her suspected involvement in taking an American citizen hostage.

“How the Department of Justice wants to pursue that is something that they will decide, and you should ask them for their latest update. But right now, she is in the custody of Kurdish law enforcement officials, and she is being brought to justice in their system.”

Earnest also said the the possibility of bringing Umm Sayyaf to trial in the U.s. probably can’t be ruled out. “But that also is going to involve a conversation with law enforcement authorities who are currently holding her.”

Asked to clarify U.S. policy on which cases should be tried in U.S. federal courts, Earnest spoke in generalities:

“What is true is there have been situations where individuals have been picked up on the battlefield around the world. These are terrorists who were actively plotting against the United States or our interests.

“Those individuals in some cases have been brought to the United States. They have gone through Article III courts. They have been charged. They have been convicted and they currently are serving time on American soil in American prisons.

“So, if something like what you’re describing were to happen (Umm Sayyaf hypothetically being tried in the U.S.), it would not at all be unprecedented. In fact, our system has demonstrated its capacity to handle these kinds of challenges.

“I think the thing that I will go back to, though, is that our principal goal when it comes to the expeditionary task force is obtaining information that can be valuable in our campaign to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.

“And, you know, we made clear that when Umm Sayyaf, the wife of the ISIL leader, was detained that she was interrogated for intelligence purposes prior to being put into the Kurdish criminal justice system. That sort of process is one that is in place any time U.S. officials detain an accused terrorist.

“There is a process for sending professional interrogators in to interrogate that individual, to obtain as much information and intelligence as possible; if necessary, to obtain information about potential plots or potential threats so that those threats can be mitigated or even eliminated.

“Then, where appropriate, those individuals can then be turned over to law enforcement officials who can conduct an investigation and obtain information that could be used in a civilian court of law. This was a process that was created and implemented under President Obama’s leadership, and it is one that has resulted in important terrorism convictions against individuals who sought to do harm to the United States and our interests.”

— Written by Susan Jones