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German IS bride could face death penalty in Iraq

September 17, 2017

Iraq's prime minister has said that the courts will decide if 16-year-old Linda W. should face the death penalty for her involvement with IS. The German teen ran away last summer after talking with extremists online.

An IS propaganda video shows four veiled women holding guns
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

After running away from her home in eastern Germany last summer to join the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) in Iraq, German teen Linda W.'s fate now rests in the hands of Iraq's courts, the country's prime minister said on Saturday.

German girl arrested in Mosul – Q & A with journalist Amir Musawy, who visited her

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in an interview with the Associated Press (AP) that the 16-year-old is currently being held in a Baghdad prison and that the Iraqi judiciary will determine whether she will face the death penalty.

"You know teenagers under certain laws, they are accountable for their actions especially if the act is a criminal activity when it amounts to killing innocent people," he said.

The teen was found in the basement of a home in Mosul by Iraqi forces in July during an offensive to drive the extremist group from the city.

Iraqi intelligence officials told AP that Linda W. allegedly worked with the IS group's police force.

Read more: What now for German IS brides when they return home?

IS families detained at camp

The prime minister also said that Iraqi forces detained 1,333 women and children who surrendered to Kurdish forces.

A woman and a small child lie on the floor of a tent in a camp for displaced people on the outskirts of Mosul
Over 1,300 women and children who are relatives of IS militants are being kept in a camp outside MosulImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/B. Szlanko

Many of those who are detained at the camp are not guilty of any crime, al-Abadi said, adding that his government is communicating with their home countries to "find a way to hand them over."

"It is not in our interest to keep families and children inside our country when their countries are prepared to take them," al-Abadi said. So far, Iraq has repatriated fewer than 100 people.

Read more: What attracts Japanese women to 'Islamic State'?

Linda W. is being held in Baghdad along with hundreds of other foreign women with IS links who are suspected of carrying out terrorist attacks, Iraqi officials told AP.

The other non-Iraqi women include citizens from France, Belgium, Syria and Iran.

Teen radicalized online

Linda W., who was 15 when she fled her hometown in the eastern German state of Saxony, told journalists back in July that she regrets ever going to Iraq.

"I want to go home to my family," she said at the time. "I want to get out of the war, away from the weapons, the noise."

The teen was radicalized after communicating with IS extremists online.

Read more: How IS radicalizes teenagers using the internet

Linda W. said it took her a month to travel to Turkey, through Syria and into Iraq to marry an IS fighter.

She said she was later "shipped" to Mosul and that her husband was killed shortly after they came to the city.

German prosecutors had previously warned that Linda W. could be put on trial in Iraq where she faces the death penalty if convicted of terrorism-related offenses.

Capital punishment does not exist in German law, but if tried in Germany, Linda W. could face a prison term between one to ten years.

Germany's Foreign Ministry previously said they were working on returning the teen and three other German women who were caught in Iraq, but there is currently no extradition treaty in place between the two countries.

rs/kl (AP)