US Military frees American ISIS suspect after more than a year
The US military has released an American citizen who was suspected of being a member of ISIS, two US officials told CNN.
The officials said the individual was transported to Bahrain where he was released.
The American was captured by US-backed anti-ISIS fighters in Syria and was held by the US military in Iraq since September 2017 without ever being tried.
One official identified the individual as Abdulrahman Ahmad Alsheikh and said that his US passport has been cancelled.
Alsheikh’s release was first reported by the New York Times.
The dual US-Saudi national’s fate was the subject of a months-long legal battle between the US government and the American Civil Liberties Union.
A federal judge had previously blocked efforts by the US government to transfer him to a third country or release him in Syria.
In a statement issued Monday, the ACLU confirmed reports of his release, saying he was “now a free man.”
“Under a confidential settlement agreement, the US government has released him in an unnamed country,” the statement said.
“Our client has fought long and hard for his rights,” Jonathan Hafetz, the senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project, said in the statement.
“We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that the Trump administration thought it could trample over the rights of this American citizen. This case shows the enduring importance of the courts in safeguarding the rights of Americans against government overreach,” Hafetz added.
Defense Department officials have said that the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces has over 700 foreign terrorist fighters in custody from some 40 countries.
US officials have sought to encourage countries to repatriate their citizens in detention in Syria in order to ease the burden on the SDF’s detention facilities.
However many countries are reluctant to do so due to the difficulty of prosecuting suspected ISIS members based on evidence collected on the battlefield.