Iraq sentences wife of Abu Bakr Baghdadi to death for crimes against Yazidi women

An Iraqi court issued a death sentence Wednesday against one of the wives of the slain Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, alleging that she was complicit in crimes committed against Yazidi women captured by the terror group.

The ruling comes weeks before the 10-year mark since IS launched a series of attacks against the Yazidi religious minority in the northern Iraqi region of Sinjar in early August 2014, killing and capturing thousands — including women and girls who were subjected to human trafficking and sexual abuse.

The United Nations announced the campaign against the Yazidis amounted to genocide.

A statement by Iraq’s judicial council said the Karkh Criminal Court sentenced the woman for “detaining Yazidi women in her home” and facilitating their kidnapping by “the terrorist IS gangs in Sinjar district”. It also added the ruling was issued in accordance with Iraq’s anti-terrorism law and its “Yazidi survivors law”.

The statement did not name the defendant, but two court officials identified her as Asma Mohammed, who was arrested in 2018 in Turkey.

Survivors of the IS attacks in Iraq have complained of a lack of accountability and have criticized the decision — made at the request of the Iraqi government — to wind down a U.N. probe into IS crimes, including the alleged use of chemical weapons.

At the same time, human rights groups have raised concerns about the lack of due process in trials of alleged IS members in Iraq and have particularly criticized mass executions of those convicted on terrorism charges. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have stressed the convictions are often extracted under torture and urged Iraq to abolish the death penalty.

On June 29, 2014, al-Baghdadi, known as one of the most ruthlessly effective militant leaders of modern times, declared the militant group’s caliphate in large swaths of Iraq and Syria. In 2019, he was killed in a U.S. raid in Syria, dealing a major blow to the militant group which has now lost its hold on all the areas it previously controlled though some of its cells continue to carry out attacks.

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