An American Special Ops unit captured a significant ISIS fighter in Iraq, but its plans for the operative following his imminent interrogation don’t appear very solid.
The militant — the first captured by the the Army’s elite Delta Force since its deployment in December — is being interrogated by the US at a temporary detention center near Erbil in northern Iraq, the New York Times reported.
But US officials didn’t seem as sure about what they plan to do with the detainee — and the presumed wave of detainees to come, if all goes to plan — after he is interrogated, which could take weeks or months.
The Defence Department said there are no plans to hold any detainees for an indefinite time — there is little appetite among administration officials for a new American facility to hold Islamic State detainees, a la the highly controversial and disgraced Abu Ghraib prison that held suspected members of al Qaeda in Iraq between 2004-2006.
No ISIS operatives will be sent to Guantanamo Bay, either, in light of Obama’s recent proposal to congress that the controversial military prison be closed for good.
The US might do what it did with Umm Sayyaf, the wife of ISIS’ “oil emir” Abu Sayyaf. Umm was detained for three months by US officials after American commandos killed her husband in a May 2015 raid. She was then transferred to Iraqi Kurds in August.
The Kurds, however, haven’t filed any charges against Umm Sayyaf for her alleged role in American aid worker Kayla Muller’s death, or for the Yazidi women she reportedly helped her husband abuse. The worry among administration officials now, the Daily Beast reported, is that if they hand over the newest ISIS detainee to the Kurds, they won’t bring him to justice for his crimes, either.
“We discussed the idea of [Sayyaf’s] surrender and extradition to the US with senior-level [Iraqi] officials, but ultimately that option was not available as Iraq has a constitutional prohibition on surrendering Iraqi citizens to foreign authorities,” the official said.
It’s not clear if the ISIS fighter captured earlier this week is an Iraqi citizen. But if US officials remain steadfast in transferring him over to the Iraqis, as they did with Sayyaf, it’s uncertain what would happen to him in their custody.
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