Yazidis confirmed 'victims' in US case against IS woman

Yazidi genocide survivors confirmed 'victims' in US case against female IS member
2 min read
23 October, 2021
The recognition by the court in Virginia follows years of inertia in proceedings against IS member Umm Sayyaf, who was captured by US forces back in 2015.
Almost 3,000 Yazidi women and children are still missing, more than seven years since genocide at the hands of the Islamic State group began [Getty]

Five female Yazidi genocide survivors have been formally recognised as victims by a US court in a case against a female Islamic State member.

The five women were enslaved and raped while held by Umm Sayyaf and her husband, top IS financier Abu Sayyaf, at their house in the town of Al-Shaddadi, northeastern Syria.

The women are represented by Amal Clooney - a renowned lawyer working on other Yazidi genocide cases - the Centre for Justice and Accountability, and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.

"The Yazidi women are all victims of horrific crimes perpetrated by Umm Sayyaf and believe that she should be prosecuted in the United States for her role in the genocide of the Yazidis," the Doughty Street Chambers, where Clooney is a barrister, said in a Friday press release.

Four of the Yazidi women were kidnapped as teenagers during the IS onslaught in 2014 in the Sinjar region of northwestern Iraq - the heartland of the ethnoreligious minority group.

The recognition by the court in Virginia follows years of inertia in proceedings against Umm Sayyaf, who was captured by US forces back in 2015. 

The US government filed a criminal complaint against her, but only for conspiring to provide material to support IS. She was handed over to the authorities in Iraqi Kurdistan, where she has been held ever since.

The case lay dormant for years. The US refused to formally recognise the women as crime victims and did not provide them with information about proceedings against Umm Sayyaf in Iraqi Kurdistan, despite repeated requests.

The women filed the motion to be recognised as crime victims in April of this year, and again requested information on Umm Sayyaf and the proceedings against her.

The government has since granted them information on Umm Sayyaf's case.

More than seven years since the genocide began, almost 3,000 Yazidi women and children are still missing.

International efforts to find them have been slow.

Earlier this week, the US State Department released a statement expressing "grave concern" at the number of Yazidis yet to be found.