Iraq to deport suspected French militant who served sentence

In this Jan. 27, 2018, photo, U.S. Army soldiers speak to families in rural Anbar on a reconnaissance patrol near a coalition outpost in western Iraq. (AP)
Updated 19 February 2018
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Iraq to deport suspected French militant who served sentence

BAGHDAD: An Iraqi court ordered the release and deportation of a suspected French militant sentenced on Monday to seven months in prison for entering the country illegally, saying she had already served her time.
Melina Bougedir, 27, was arrested last summer in former Daesh stronghold Mosul with her four children, three of whom have been repatriated to France.
Wearing a black dress and purple headscarf, she entered the courtroom holding her other child, a boy with blond hair.
Speaking in Arabic, she said that she had been a housewife in Mosul.
“I entered Syria with my French passport but Daesh took it from me. I stayed in Syria for four days and then came to Mosul with my husband and four children.”
She said that her French husband Maximilien, whom she said had been a cook for Daesh, was killed as Iraqi forces battled to oust the militant group from Mosul, which was recaptured last July. Asked her if she regretted what she did, she replied: “Yes.”
Iraq in December declared victory against Daesh after a years-long battle to retake large swathes of territory the extremists had seized in 2014.
An Iraqi court last month condemned a German woman to death by hanging after finding her guilty of belonging to Daesh, the first such sentence in a case involving a European woman.
Soon afterwards, lawyers for Bougedir and another French woman awaiting trial in Iraq for allegedly joining Daesh wrote to French President Emmanuel Macron warning that they could face the death penalty.
Several dozen French citizens suspected of links to the militant group are believed to be in detention camps or prisons in Syria and Iraq.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in Baghdad last week that suspected militants should be tried in the countries where they committed their “crimes,” while reiterating France’s opposition to the death penalty.
Britain has also taken a firm stance against repatriation, as has Belgium which denied a request by one of its nationals to be sent home from Iraq in exchange for cooperating with the authorities.
Several hundred foreigners, both men and women, are thought to have been detained in Iraq for alleged links to Daesh.
In December, a Swedish man of Iraqi origin was among 38 people executed after being convicted of “terrorism.”
And on Sunday, an Iraqi court sentenced a Turkish woman to death and 11 other foreign widows to life in jail for belonging to Daesh, despite their pleas that they had been duped or forced by their husbands to join them in Iraq.


Houthi militia ‘must respect neutrality of aid workers’

Updated 19 January 2019
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Houthi militia ‘must respect neutrality of aid workers’

  • The recommendations came as UN monitors try to strengthen a cease-fire in the port of Hodeidah
  • Houthis were blamed for an attack on a UN convey on Thursday

 NEW YORK: UN experts monitoring sanctions against Yemen are recommending that the Security Council urge the Houthis to respect the neutrality and independence of humanitarian workers.

The Associated Press has obtained the nine recommendations the panel of experts made in their latest report to the council.

The recommendations came as UN monitors try to strengthen a cease-fire in the port of Hodeidah, key to the delivery of 70 percent of Yemen’s imports and humanitarian aid, and arrange a withdrawal of rival forces from the area agreed to by the government and the Houthis on Dec. 13.

While the agreement in Stockholm was limited, if fully implemented it could offer a potential breakthrough in Yemen’s four-year civil war.

The experts asked the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against Yemen to engage with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s office, Yemen’s government and donors to “enhance” the UN mission inspecting vessels heading to ports in Yemen for illegal arms so it can “identify networks using false documentation to evade inspection.”

They also suggested that Guterres organize a conference with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank as well as other “key actors to best manage cash flows and imports of goods,” using the principles of the UN Global Compact on how companies should conduct business.

And the experts recommended that the secretary-general ask the UN inspection mission and monitors at the port of Hodeidah “to share information on potential cases of acts that threaten the peace, stability and security of Yemen,” including violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, the UN arms embargo, and obstructions of humanitarian assistance.

The experts also asked the sanctions committee to consider sending three letters. One would be to Abu Al-Abbas, a militia commander in the flashpoint city of Taiz, asking him to transfer artifacts and items from the Taiz National Museum in his custody to Yemen’s government. 

A second would be to alert the International Maritime Organization to “the risks posed by anti-ship cruise missiles and water-borne improvised explosive devices in the Red Sea and to encourage it to discuss these threats with the commercial shipping industry with the aim of developing suitable precautions and countermeasures.”

The third would be to alert the International Civil Aviation Organization of the risks posed by drones and munitions to civil aviation, particularly near busy international airports on the Arabian Peninsula “and encourage it to discuss these threats with airport operators and airlines with the aim of developing suitable precautions and countermeasures.”