Photo transmitted by the Daily Courier of the American Kayla Mueller in Prescott, Arizona in 2013 (THE DAILY COURIER/MATT HINSHAW)
A young Yazidi woman told a US court on Monday that she saw the leader of the Islamic State group (IS) take the young American Kayla Mueller hostage “at night”.
A member of this ethnic and religious minority persecuted by IS, Lia Mulla gave a chilling testimony in the trial of El Shafee el-Sheikh, a jihadist accused of having been part of a trio specialized in the capture and execution of Western hostages.
Kayla Mueller, kidnapped in Syria in August 2013 just before her 25th birthday, had for a time been under the supervision of three men with British accents, dubbed “the Beatles” by their prisoners, several former European hostages said at the bar. . she met her in detention.
Lia Mulla met her a year later, after she too had been captured by jihadists near the Sinjar mountains in northwestern Iraq.
Located in the same cell as the American, she said she communicated “mainly with her hands and some Arabic words” but only in the absence of her guards who had forbidden them to exchange.
For about a week, they were imprisoned in “a red house”, under the control of a couple, “Abou Sayef and Oum Sayef”. “He treated us like slaves”, “he terrified us by showing us videos of beheadings and threatening us with weapons”.
– “The Dirty House” –
The situation worsened further when they were moved, along with another Yazidi girl, to “the dirty house”, he said.
The Alexandria federal court where the trial of El Shafee el-Sheikh is taking place, on April 5, 2022 in Virginia (AFP/SAUL LOEB)
“Why did you call it that?” prosecutor Alicia Cook asked. “Because that’s where they used to take young women to rape them.”
One night, IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, whom he met in one of his first prisons and calls “Abu Khalid,” “entered” the cell where the three women sleep.
“He took Kayla out for the night,” he said. “When he brought her back the next morning, she was very sad, nervous, crying.”
“She told us that he had raped her and that if she tried to escape he would kill her.”
“It happened at another time,” Lia Mulla added, modestly adding that “Yazidi women” had suffered the same fate.
– ‘Tell the world’ –
The young Yazidie then decides to escape. She tells her two cellmates about her plan, but Kayla Mueller is “too scared of being decapitated” to follow her.
The American asks him, however, that if he gets out of it, “tell the world” what is happening to him.
Lia Mulla manages to escape through a window. Through a friend of her brother’s, she came into contact with the Americans. “I told them there was a young American girl being held by ISIS…and everything else.”
Despite this testimony, Kayla Mueller will not survive this experience.
Photo provided by the Syrian Democratic Forces of ISIS fighter El Shafee el-Sheikh on February 10, 2018 (Syrian Democratic Forces/Handout)
In February 2015, ISIS assured her family that Kayla was killed in an airstrike led by Jordan. An explanation that has never convinced the US authorities.
His death and the execution of three American hostages staged in propaganda videos earned El Shafee el-Sheikh, 33, a trial in the United States.
Stripped of his British nationality, he admits to having been a jihadist in the ranks of IS but denies having been part of the “Beatles” despite damning interviews he gave after his arrest by Syrian Kurdish forces in 2018.
After ten days dedicated to the accusation, their lawyers will be able to present their arguments as of Tuesday afternoon.
If they decide not to and if the defendant remains silent, the indictment and guilty plea could take place on Wednesday morning. The members of the jury will then retire to deliberate.