US SpecOps Troops Capture 'Significant' ISIS Operative in Iraq
Fox News | Mar 02, 2016
This undated file image posted on a militant website on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows fighters from the al-Qaida linked ISIL marching in Raqqa, Syria. MILITANT WEBSITE
A U.S. special operations assault force captured an ISIS operative during a recent raid in northern Iraq, a U.S. official confirmed to Fox News on Tuesday.
The official would not discuss specifics of the raid, including the identity of the captured militant, due to the sensitivity of the mission. The operation was first reported on by CNN. A report in The New York Times described the operative as a "significant" member of the terror group.
In December, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that a special operations task force was headed to Iraq. Fox learned the 200-man unit, which included an assault force, intelligence cell and aviation element, would be based in Irbil in northern Iraq.
In October, Army Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler, a Delta Force commando, was killed during a mission to rescue of dozens of mostly Kurdish prisoners held by ISIS in northern Iraq.
In May, a Delta Force raid in eastern Syria resulted in the death of an ISIS commander, Abu Sayyaf, and the detention of his wife Umm. U.S. forces hope to gather evidence about the terror group's operations from its latest captive, as it did in the case of Umm Sayyaf.
Umm Sayyaf remains held by the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq. She was charged last month by the Justice Department with being part of a conspiracy resulting in the death of Kayla Mueller, a 26-year-old American aid worker kidnapped by ISIS.
Mueller was held as a sex slave by the Sayyafs and repeatedly raped by ISIS' self-proclaimed emir, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, while in his custody.
Mueller was "sexually abused by Baghdadi, who forced her to have sex with him," according to the Justice Department statement.
A U.S. official told Fox News the latest so-called "kill or capture" mission follows the template of the raid that targeted the Sayyafs and will be the model for such missions going forward.
The official also said there was "no plan to make a detention center," in Iraq, adding that captured ISIS operatives would be held either by the Kurds or the Iraqi government.
Carter reiterated his desire to close the military detention center at the Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, during a Pentagon press conference Monday.
But Carter acknowledged closing the prison is currently against the law and that some prisoners are too dangerous to transfer to other counties.
-- Fox News' Lucas Tomlinson contributed to this report.