Iraq arrests ISIS ‘Mufti of Mosul’
Security services in Baghdad described Shifa Al Nima as one of the terror group's top leaders
An Iraqi police swat team has arrested a senior ISIS cleric believed to have issued the religious ruling for the terror group to kill numerous religious figures and destroy the historic Prophet Yunus Mosque in central Mosul.
The arrest, announced on Thursday by the Security Media Cell of the Iraqi prime minister’s office, brings in a man believed to be one of the highest members of ISIS still at large in Iraq.
Shifa Al Nima, also known as Abu Abdul Bari, was described as the Mufti of Mosul while the militant group controlled large swaths of the country after its take over in 2014.
An internationally-backed military campaign pushed the group out of the country in 2017 although it left behind untold damage as fighting raged street to street in Mosul, the last major conurbation to be retaken.
While ISIS-controlled Mosul and other Iraqi cities, the group ordered the destruction of numerous historic, religious and archaeological sites. Among the sites destroyed was the Al Nuri Mosque with its famous leaning minaret in Mosul. The Iraqi government and UNESCO, with help from international donors including the UAE, are attempting to rebuild the site.
The Iraqi Security Cell reported that Mr Al Nima was “working in front of and preacher in a number of mosques in the city, known for his provocative speeches against the security forces, which were inciting and belonging to ISIS and pledging allegiance to the extremist ideology during the period of ISIS's control of the city of Mosul.”
It added that the government considers him one of the main leaders of ISIS and “he is responsible for issuing fatwas related to the execution of a number of scholars and clerics who refused to pledge allegiance to ISIS and he is responsible for issuing a fatwa to blow up the Prophet Yunus Mosque.”
The Security Cell added that he was arrested in the city of Mosul after an investigation “based on accurate information”.
While the group’s proto-state has been dismantled, Iraq is still working to tackle enduring ISIS terror cells across the country and in areas the group previously controlled. In mountainous areas between Iraq and the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region, ISIS fighters have been regrouping.
Iraqi security forces make regular arrests of those who worked with the group during its control of areas of the country.
Thousands have already been tried in special terror courts. However, rights groups have questioned the process for relying on confessions over other physical evidence and the speed with which the judges return a guilty verdict that often carries the death sentence.
Updated: January 18, 2020 04:59 PM