Isis widow sentenced to death by hanging in Iraq

Jeff Farrell
The women were arrested in Isis strongholds, including Mosul, where smoke is seen billowing here after a US airstrike last July before the city was re-captured from the militants: AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images

An Isis widow was sentenced to death by hanging and 11 others were jailed for life in a court in Iraq for their part in “acts of terrorism” waged by the Islamic extremists in the country.

The Turkish national, 48, who was condemned to death said she had travelled to join her husband in the group's northern stronghold there because it had established strict Sharia law.

She was handed the sentence, despite her state defence team arguing that all 12 women – 11 from Turkey, one from Azerbaijan – had not been linked to violence, in the Baghdad court.

They also claimed the women, aged 20 to 50, had been tricked or forced into joining their husbands, with one saying her spouse threatened to take their two-year-old son unless she travelled.

The women were arrested in both Mosul and Tal Afar when Iraqi forces moved to re-capture the Isis enclaves in an offensive which left their husbands dead, Al Jazeera reported.

"The court issued 10 verdicts of life in prison against 10 women after convicting them of terrorism, and sentenced to death by hanging another terrorist who holds Turkish citizenship,” Judge Abdul-Sattar Al-Birqdar said.

The Turkish woman sentenced to death broke down in tears when she explained her reasons for travelling to Iraq.

"We had to leave Turkey because my husband was a wanted man. I wanted to live in an Islamic state where sharia (Islamic law) is the law of the land.

"I regret having come," she added, pointing out that her husband and two sons were killed in air attacks when Iraqi forces aided by US fighter jets moved to re-capture the Isis strongholds.

The woman from Azerbaijan said she had travelled to Turkey to meet her husband there – but she was unknowingly later taken to meet him in an Isis stronghold in Iraq.

"I got to know my husband through the internet. He proposed we meet in Turkey, but an intermediary there told me he would drive me to my future husband, without saying where," said Angie Omrane.

"I thought we were staying in Turkey, but I found myself in Syria and then my husband took me to Iraq."

Leila, one of the Turkish women, said she was pushed into travelling there.

"My husband forced me to come to Iraq by threatening to take away my two-year-old son if I didn't follow him. I didn't take part in any violent action. I stayed at home the whole time."

Human Rights Watch senior Iraq researcher Belkis Wille hit out at the death penalty that the court levelled at the Turkish woman.

She told The National that the group "opposes the death penalty in all circumstances as an irreversible, degrading, and cruel punishment."

All 12 women were found guilty under Iraq’s anti-terrorism laws against "any person who commits, incites, plans, finances or assists in acts of terrorism". They were also found guilty for entering the country illegally.

They have one month to appeal the court’s ruling.

Figures show a total of 509 foreign women, including 300 Turks, are being held in Iraq, with 813 children, according to a security source who spoke to French news agency Agence France Presse.

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