ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Two American citizens accused of supporting the Islamic State (IS) have been transferred from the custody of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to US law officials and brought to the United States, the US Justice Department said on Tuesday.
“At the request of US citizens to go home and request the FBI, the Public Relations Office of the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) handed over a US family that had joined a mercenary to the US Federal Police,” the official account of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) said on Thursday.
Ibraheem Izzy Musaibli, 28, was transferred to face charges in the US District Court in Detroit, Michigan. He was charged for providing material support to IS.
Musaibli’s relatives claim he was kidnapped by IS and imprisoned because he would not fight, Detroit News reported.
The other suspect, IS widow Samantha Elhassani, has been charged with making false statements to the FBI. She lived with her husband and children in IS’ Syrian capital for over two years until the SDF captured her.
Her four children accompanied Elhassani.
“The children are currently in the care of Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS). Indiana DCS will make any necessary determinations regarding their custody, safety, and well-being,” the US Justice Department said.
Nadim Houry, director of Human Rights Watch’s terrorism and counterterrorism program, told Kurdistan 24 that this could serve as a precedent for other Western countries to end limbo situations of hundreds of foreign fighters, wives, and children, who have been captured by the SDF forces.
“Not for all cases, but yes, I am hoping it can serve as an incentive to other countries to end the current vacuum. Other countries I suspect will say that unlike the US they don’t have staff on the ground to transfer them,” Houry said.
“But I believe you can think of alternatives if there is political will, (the US ensures a transfer to Erbil then a flight home from there),” he said.
“Two issues, though, need to be dealt with: 1) ensuring that any Syrian victims can participate in such trials in Western countries, 2) this does not resolve the issue for those who fear going back to their home countries (mostly the Chinese, Arabs, Central Asians),” he added.
The US has called on countries to return their nationals for prosecution, fearing the SDF is not equipped to run long-term detention facilities.
However, so far Russia, Indonesia, and now the US, have received their nationals from northern Syria.
The New York Times reports that the US military has helped the SDF upgrade prison facilities, spending about $1.6 million, after some prisoners escaped.
“We have repeatedly called on the nations of the world to come forward, claim their citizens and bring them to justice in their home countries,” US Army Spokesperson Colonel Thomas Veale said in June.
“We know from past experience that detention centers are a breeding ground for radicalism. We cannot afford to allow this issue to go unresolved. It's a global issue that requires a global solution.”
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany