U.S. forces in Iraq are deferring to Iraqi forces to interrogate captured Islamic State members, including an alleged Palestinian-American fighter captured in late February, according to an Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman.
U.S. Army Col. Steve Warren confirmed during a press briefing Wednesday Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and the various Kurdish militias will be responsible for interrogating nearly all captured ISIS members, as opposed to the U.S. forces carrying them out unilaterally.
“We haven’t spoken to him as far as I know,” said Warren when asked if coalition forces would interrogate Mohammed Jamal Amin, an alleged U.S. citizen and ISIS member from Virginia. The Kurdish Peshmerga confirmed Monday Amin had been captured in late February and was in its custody.
“That’s really not a matter we are involved with, frankly, at all,” noted Warren. “From our perspective, the military perspective, we simply don’t have a dog in that hunt.”
Warren said any alleged U.S. citizen captured abroad would be the responsibility of the U.S. Department of State coordinating with the Iraqi government. Should Amin’s alleged U.S. citizenship be confirmed and it was found he was indeed engaged with ISIS, it would then be a matter for the Department of Justice.
Warren explained U.S. forces operating in Iraq simply do not have the manpower to conduct interviews with every captured ISIS fighter, and local partners in Iraq are capable of gathering any useful intelligence. He pointed to last week’s capture of around 149 ISIS members trying to hide among fleeing women and children as an example of a situation where Iraqi forces would be better suited to handle interrogations of prisoners.
“The Kurds actually managed to collect up a number of ISIL [ISIS] fighters over the last several months,” said Warren. “We don’t interview every one of those, most of them are just low level … grunts, foot soldiers. The Kurds are fully capable of interviewing them and collecting the intelligence and moving it through the various … synchronization centers. So the answer is no, were not really that interested in him.”
Warred noted though most interrogations are best suited for local partners, that does not mean the U.S. does not conduct any interrogations whatsoever.
“Certainly we do conduct interrogations,” Warren clarified later in the briefing, “but it depends on who the individual is.”
Warren said U.S. forces have close working relationships with both the Iraqis and Kurds and both groups are aware of the types of individuals the U.S. would want to speak with.
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