Six Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) jihadists, taken prisoner with the assistance of U.S. special forces, are reportedly being tortured, in violation of international law, by America’s Kurdish allies, The Daily Beast has learned from U.S. officials and humanitarian aid workers.
Nevertheless, the United States is not concerned much by the allegations, the article suggests.
“I am sure they are being tortured, no question,” an anonymous U.S. defense official in Iraq told The Daily Beast on condition of anonymity, referring to six ISIS terrorists who were taken captive by the Kurdish peshmerga forces in October after the ethnic minority fighters raided an Iraqi prison camp ran by the jihadist group with the help of the U.S. Army’s Delta Force.
Kurdish intelligence had erroneously indicated that dozens of their peshmerga fighters were being held at the detention facility in the Iraqi town of Hawija.
Although no Kurdish prisoners were found, 69 hostages were freed and more than 20 ISIS militants killed in addition to the six who were taken captive.
“The brutality of the Kurdish campaign against the so-called Islamic State widely known as ISIS is well established in reporting by The Daily Beast and other media,” notes the article. “But the treatment of these prisoners, taken with the assistance of U.S. government forces who then deny any responsibility for what happens to them, is reminiscent of the ‘rendition’ program under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, which transferred suspected terrorists to the custody of governments that used methods of torture flatly prohibited by American and international law.”
Kurdish authorities have not disclosed the location of the ISIS prisoners because they are being tortured, a human rights worker in the region told The Daily Beast on condition of anonymity.
“Various nongovernmental organizations in Iraq and Syria have documented, over the course of the U.S.-led war against ISIS, systematic abuses by Kurdish military forces against the militants and their perceived sympathizers, including the forced removal of civilians from their homes in what one human-rights group said amounted to ‘war crimes,’” declares the report.
“But U.S. officials told The Daily Beast that Washington hasn’t asked the Kurds for access to the ISIS prisoners, and the U.S. defense official in Iraq said he doesn’t believe the U.S. military has formally raised the issue with the Kurds, either,” it adds.
The U.S. defense official proclaims that the fate of the six ISIS prisoners “is low on our priority list.”
“Few tears may be shed at the thought of ISIS fighters—who celebrate the beheading, burning, and drowning of their own captives—suffering cruel treatment at the hands of Kurdish forces, who have provided a crucial and effective ground force to complement U.S.-led airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria,” points out The Daily Beast.
“But the abuse of ISIS prisoners could become a propaganda instrument for the militants, and further their own twisted justification for harming their captives,” it continues. “While U.S. officials have stressed that the raid in Hawija that netted the six ISIS fighters was a Kurdish operation, the mistreatment of those prisoners would inevitably be linked to the United States government and the military, which was present at the raid and provided air support.”
It is not clear whether the six ISIS fighters have been afforded that opportunity, highlights The Daily Beast.
“These individuals are being held in Kurdistan and are still being processed,” a spokesperson for the Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC), which oversaw the raid and helps coordinate U.S.-led airstrikes against the Islamic State, told the news outlet, which noted that processing has apparently already taken a month.
“ICRC has access to all ISIS prisoners in the Kurdistan region, and yes they are afforded with the care afforded to them by local and international law,” responded the spokesperson when asked whether the prisoners had been granted access to the International Committee for the Red Cross and were being treated humanely.
Nevertheless, that “claim is nearly impossible to verify because the ICRC will not confirm or deny that it has been given access to the prisoners,” reports The Daily Beast, adding that “as a matter of policy, the ICRC doesn’t publicly comment on its access to prisoners and detainees, and a spokesperson for the group declined to do so for this article.”
Army Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler was fatally wounded as he sacrificed his life to save the hostages during the raid, making him the first fatality in Iraq since 2011. He was buried last week in Arlington National Cemetery.