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German court opens trial of suspected 'Islamic State' member

January 11, 2023

A 37-year-old German woman is accused of crimes against humanity for her time with the so-called "Islamic State." Nadine K. is accused of "enslaving" a Yazidi woman in Syria and Iraq.

Nadine K. taking part in her trial in Koblenz
Nadine K. is believed to have become radicalized during her studies in the German state of North Rhine-WestphaliaImage: Thomas Frey/dpa/picture alliance

A court in the western German city of Koblenz on Wednesday began the proceedings against a German national accused of assisting the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) terrorist group in Syria and Iraq. 

What do we know so far about the case? 

German federal prosecutors say 37-year-old Nadine K. engaged in crimes against humanity while a member of IS. She is currently remanded in custody. 

Nadine K. is believed to have journeyed to Syria in December 2014 from Germany, with her husband joining her on the trip. Prosecutors say the purpose of the trip was to join IS.

In 2015, the couple moved to Mosul, Iraq, which had been taken by IS forces. 

Nadine K.'s husband is believed to have worked as a doctor for IS fighters, while she took care of the household and their two daughters. The couple allegedly stored weapons in their home, which reportedly served as a hostel for "single female members" of IS.

In early 2016, the couple are accused of enslaving a 22-year-old woman from Iraq's Yazidi minority. The Yazidi woman was abducted by IS members in 2014, after the jihadi group attacked her home village in the Iraqi Sinjar region.   

Members of the "Islamic State" terrorist group fire weapons
The "Islamic State" terrorist organization lost most of their territory in Syria and Iraq by December 2017Image: Dabiq/Planet Pix via ZUMA Wire/ZUMAPRESS/picture alliance

IS killed thousands of Yazidis in Sinjar that year, with many members of the ethnic minority forced to seek refuge in the Sinjar mountain range. 

"The man raped and beat the woman regularly, which Nadine K. knew," German prosecutors said. German authorities say the woman was not allowed to leave their home, and was forced to cook and clean for the family.

Prosecutors: Nadine K., husband helped IS in eradicating Yazidi faith 

German authorities say the actions of the couple towards the 22-year-old aided IS' efforts "to wipe out the Yazidi faith."

The couple later returned to Syria in late 2016, bringing their Yazidi captive with them.

They remained in IS-controlled regions of Syria until March 2019, when Kurdish forces took the couple into custody. The Yazidi woman was also granted her freedom at this time, after years of torture.  

Nadine K. returned to Germany in March 2021, with authorities arresting her on arrival at Frankfurt International Airport. 

The proceedings in Koblenz are the latest attempt by the German government to crack down on its citizens who joined IS.

In September, the prosecutor general in Karlsruhe brought war crimes charges against a German national who married several IS members. One of her alleged husbands is also believed to have kept a Yazidi woman as a slave.  

Nadia Murad, a Yazidi woman who survived IS torture, met with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock in September. During their meeting, they discussed methods to encourage international prosecutions of IS members who engaged in brutal crimes.

wd/msh (AFP, dpa)