Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 September 2018

Baghdad sentences six Turkish ISIL widows to death

Many of the women claim they had been forced into travelling to Iraq

Iraqi children sit amidst the rubble of a street in Mosul's Nablus neighbourhood in front of a billboard bearing the ISIL logo. Aris Messinis / AFP
Iraqi children sit amidst the rubble of a street in Mosul's Nablus neighbourhood in front of a billboard bearing the ISIL logo. Aris Messinis / AFP

Iraq sentenced six Turkish women to death and a seventh to life in prison on Monday after being convicted on charges of terrorism, including providing support to ISIL operations.

Iraqi courts have been trying hundreds of detained women who lived with the insurgents during their three-year rule.

The women, accompanied by their young children, told the court that they had entered Iraq to join their ISIL husbands. They surrendered to Kurdish Peshmerga fighters after fleeing Tal Afar, one of the last ISIL bastions to fall to Iraqi security forces last year.

Since its surge in 2014 in northern Iraq, thousands of foreign fighters have joined ISIL in committing war crimes. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi declared victory over the extremist group in December. Iraqi authorities began prosecuting foreign militants and their families soon afterwards.

The women were found guilty under Article 4 of Iraq’s anti-terrorism law: "any person who commits, incites, plans, finances or assists in acts of terrorism".


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Many of the detained women claim they had been forced into travelling to Iraq.

The country’s anti-terrorism law allows for the death penalty to be issued against anyone who is found guilty of belonging to the insurgent group.

Since December, the central criminal court has issued a number of sentences against ISIL women, ranging from long prison terms to death by hanging.

An estimate total of 20,000 people are being held in jail in Iraq for alleged connections to the extremists, experts say, although the government has not released an official figure.

In February, a court in Baghdad sentenced a Turkish woman to death, while 10 other foreign ISIL wives received life in prison for terrorism offences. A German woman has been sentenced to death for providing the insurgents with logistical support.

Dozens of Russian women and children suspected of links to ISIL fighters were handed over to Moscow.

Human Rights Watch condemned the rulings as "unfair" and urged authorities to "develop a national strategy to prioritise the prosecution of those who committed the most serious crimes".

The watchdog stressed that women suspected only of ISIL membership rather than any combat role are "getting the harshest possible sentences for what appears to be marriage to an ISIS member or a coerced border crossing."

So far, Iraq has detained at least 560 women, as well as 600 children, identified as extremists or relatives of suspected ISIL fighters.

Meanwhile authorities in Iraq's Kurdish region said in early February they had detained some 4,000 suspected ISIL members, including foreigners.