Iraqi court sentences Al-Qaeda leader’s sister to death

Iraqi security forces that fight terrorism can be seen in this file photo. (AFP)
Updated 08 March 2018
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Iraqi court sentences Al-Qaeda leader’s sister to death

BAGHDAD: A Baghdad court has convicted the sister of the former leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq who was killed in 2010 and sentenced her to death on terrorism charges, a spokesman said Thursday.
The spokesman of Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council, Abdul-Sattar Bayrkdar, said in a statement that Abu Omar Al-Baghdadi’s sister was found guilty for “offering logistic support and help to (the militants) in carrying out criminal acts.”
The woman, whose name was not released, was also found guilty of “distributing money” among the militants in Mosul. He didn’t give more details on the charges and what years she cooperated with Al-Qaeda in Iraq.
Bayrkdar said the woman’s husband was earlier also sentenced to death as a member of the Al-Qaeda leadership.
Al-Baghdadi was killed in April 2010, along with Abu Ayyub Al-Masri, another prominent Al-Qaeda leader in Iraq, in a US-Iraqi joint operation.
Thursday’s statement by Bayrkdar initially said the convicted woman was the sister Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the reclusive leader of Daesh, but the spokesman later issued a correction, saying she is Abu Omar Al-Baghdadi’s sister.
Al-Qaeda in Iraq was the parent group from which Daesh emerged.
In mid-2014, Daesh controlled vast areas in northern and western Iraq, including Iraq’s second-largest city of Mosul, which was under the militants’ rule for more than three years.
Iraq declared victory over Daesh last December, after driving the militants from northern and central Iraq. Hundreds of women, including foreigners, were arrested in the sweep. Since then, Iraq’s Central Criminal Court has issued number of sentences against Daesh women, ranging from years in prison to death by hanging.
Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi’s whereabouts remain unknown. Rumors have surfaced on several occasions of his death and injuries in airstrikes and fighting in both Iraq and Syria, territories where Daesh had declared a “caliphate,” though there was never anything to back them up.
He is believed to be in his mid-40s, and was seen in public only once when he declared himself the leader of Daesh from a historic mosque in Mosul, just a few weeks after Daesh captured the city in the summer of 2014, along with entire swaths of northern and western Iraq.
Since then, he has only released audio messages to his followers from time to time, urging them to keep on fighting.


White House Mideast team holds talks with Jordanian king

Keeping spirits alive Palestinian youths play with rollerblades by walls covered with graffiti at the sea port in Gaza City on Tuesday. AFP
Updated 20 June 2018
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White House Mideast team holds talks with Jordanian king

  • The US has been trying to rally support for projects to rescue Gaza’s economy, which has been weakened by an Israeli-Egyptian blockade, while continuing to isolate Hamas
  • Jared Kushner’s team plans stops in Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. No talks with the Palestinians are scheduled, though the Americans have left the door open to meeting with them

AMMAN: President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, kicked off a swing through the Middle East on Tuesday, meeting with Jordan’s king as part of a broader effort to lay the groundwork for an expected Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

Kushner and White House envoy Jason Greenblatt held talks with Jordan’s King Abdullah, a key US ally.
A White House statement said the talks focused on US-Jordan cooperation, the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and the US efforts “to “facilitate peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.”
US officials have said their peace plan is near completion and could be released this summer. But it faces resistance from the Palestinians, who have cut off ties since Trump recognized contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last December and moved the US Embassy in Israel to the holy city last month. The Palestinians, who seek Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem as their capital, accuse the US of siding with Israel in the most sensitive issue of their decades-long conflict.
Kushner’s team also plans stops in Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. No talks with the Palestinians are scheduled, though the Americans have left the door open to meeting with them.
The Palestinians seek all of the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip for an independent state. Israel captured the territories in the 1967 Mideast war. It withdrew from Gaza in 2005, and Hamas militants seized control of the territory two years later.
The US has been trying to rally support for projects to rescue Gaza’s economy, which has been weakened by an Israeli-Egyptian blockade, while continuing to isolate Hamas. The US, Israel and Western allies shun Hamas as a terrorist group. Details of the plan have not been released, but Palestinians fear they will get little more than a symbolic foothold in Jerusalem. They also fear that aid to Gaza will help strengthen Hamas’ control over the territory.
Jordan also has a stake in east Jerusalem, serving as the custodian of major Muslim and Christian shrines there. Jerusalem’s walled Old City, captured and annexed by Israel in 1967, is home to Muslim, Christian and Jewish holy sites.
Abdullah has also rejected Trump’s moves in Jerusalem. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refuses to relinquish any part of the city.
Netanyahu traveled to Amman on Monday for a surprise meeting with Abdullah, telling the king that Israel remains committed to the status quo of the holy sites in Jerusalem.
Abdullah told Netanyahu that the fate of Jerusalem must be determined in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and that a solution should be based on establishing a Palestinian state, with east Jerusalem as its capital, on lands Israel captured in 1967.
Palestinian officials fear the Trump administration plan will leave them with a mini-state in the Gaza Strip, parts of the West Bank and a foothold in Jerusalem. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has said he will reject any plan being floated by the Trump team, arguing that the US has forfeited its role as mediator because of decisions seen as pro-Israel.