Ter­ror sis­ter caught

Elder sib­ling of slain IS leader cap­tured by Turk­ish forces

Mercury (Hobart) - - WORLD -

TURKEY cap­tured the elder sis­ter of the slain leader of the Is­lamic State group in north­west­ern Syria on Mon­day, ac­cord­ing to a se­nior Turk­ish of­fi­cial, who called the ar­rest an in­tel­li­gence “gold mine.”

Lit­tle is known about the sis­ter of Abu Bakr al-Bagh­dadi.

The Turk­ish of­fi­cial said the 65-year-old known as Ras­miya Awad is sus­pected of be­ing af­fil­i­ated with the ex­trem­ist group. He did not elab­o­rate.

Awad was cap­tured in a raid Mon­day evening on a trailer con­tainer she was liv­ing in with her fam­ily near the town of Azaz in Aleppo prov­ince.

The area is part of the region ad­min­is­tered by Turkey af­ter it car­ried out a mil­i­tary in­cur­sion to chase away IS mil­i­tants and Kur­dish fight­ers start­ing in 2016. Al­lied Syr­ian groups man­age the area known as the Euphrates Shield zone.

The of­fi­cial said the sis­ter was with her hus­band, daugh­ter-in-law and five chil­dren.

The adults are be­ing in­ter­ro­gated, he said, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity in line with govern­ment pro­to­col.

“This kind of thing is an in­tel­li­gence gold mine. What she knows about (IS) can sig­nif­i­cantly ex­pand our un­der­stand­ing of the group and help us catch more bad guys,” the of­fi­cial said.

Al-Bagh­dadi, an Iraqi from Sa­marra, was killed in a US raid in the nearby prov­ince of Idlib last month.

The raid was a ma­jor blow to the group, which has lost ter­ri­to­ries it held in Syria and Iraq in a series of mil­i­tary de­feats by the US-led coali­tion and Syr­ian and Iraqi al­lies.

Many IS mem­bers have es­caped through smug­gling routes to north­west­ern Syria in the fi­nal days of bat­tle ahead of the group’s ter­ri­to­rial de­feat ear­lier this year, while oth­ers have melted into the desert in Syria or Iraq.

The reclu­sive leader alBagh­dadi was known to be close to one of his broth­ers.

Al-Bagh­dadi’s aide, a Saudi, was killed hours af­ter the raid, also in north­west­ern Syria, in a US strike. The group named a suc­ces­sor to al-Bagh­dadi days later, but lit­tle is known about him or how the group’s struc­ture has been af­fected.

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