Iraq court sentences Belgian militant to death for Daesh membership

Tarik Jadaoun, top right, known by his nom de guerre Abu Hamza Al-Beljiki, sits inside a cell at a court in Baghdad. The Belgian militant was sentenced to death for membership of the Daesh group. (AFP)
Updated 22 May 2018
0

Iraq court sentences Belgian militant to death for Daesh membership

BAGHDAD: An Iraqi court on Tuesday sentenced a Belgian militant, who threatened Europe in propaganda videos, to death by hanging for membership of the Daesh group, an AFP journalist reported.

Tarik Jadaoun — known by his nom de guerre Abu Hamza Al-Beljiki — earlier pleaded not guilty to a range of terror, insisting he had “got lost” and pleading for mercy.

Born in 1988, Jadaoun — who was captured in ex-Daesh bastion Mosul in August — appeared before the Baghdad court dressed in a beige prison uniform with a shaved head and bushy moustache.

The hearing lasted for less than 10 minutes, with a judge sentencing him to be “hanged until death” after Jadaoun refused to defend himself after the charges were read out.

Jadaoun, who has Moroccan roots, said during a first hearing on May 10 that he was forced by “one of the top Daesh commanders” to appear in videos threatening attacks against Belgium and France.

The footage saw Jadaoun earn the moniker “the new Abaaoud,” after his compatriot Abdelhamid Abaaoud, one of the organizers of November 2015 attacks in Paris.

Earlier, investigators alleged Jadaoun was in charge of the “cubs of the caliphate” — about 60 children aged eight to 13 who received intensive fitness and weapons training.

In total, Iraqi courts have sentenced to death more than 300 people, including dozens of foreigners, for belonging to Daesh, judicial sources said last month.

Since January, some 100 foreign nationals have been sentenced to death in Baghdad and around 185 to life in prison, officials said.

Thousands of foreign fighters from across the world flocked to the black banner of the militants as the group seized swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014.

Their self-declared “caliphate” has since been reduced to a rump territory of desert in the east of war-torn Syria.

The fate of those who survived ferocious onslaughts by various forces against Daesh has been a major headache for their home governments, which are often against seeing them return.


Iran must stop supporting militias for peace offer to be taken seriously: Expert 

Updated 26 May 2019
0

Iran must stop supporting militias for peace offer to be taken seriously: Expert 

  • Iran has for long pursued a policy of outsourcing its meddling to external militias
  • Among these are the Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen

JEDDAH: Iran needs to dismantle its proxies and end its interventions in Arab affairs before seeking to normalize relations with its Gulf neighbors, a political expert told Arab News on Sunday.

“The Gulf countries have been calling for normal relations with their neighbors for years, but their calls have fallen on deaf ears on the Iranian side,” Hamdan Al-Shehri, a political analyst and international relations scholar, said.

Accusing Tehran of “playing games,” Al-Shehri described Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s suggestion that Iran wanted to improve relations with its Gulf neighbors as worthless “as long as it continues meddling in the affairs of other countries, and fails to halt its evil militias from sabotaging and destabilizing regional security.”

Iran has for long pursued a policy of outsourcing its meddling to external militias, which indirectly supports, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen. 

Zarif, who is on a two-day visit to Iraq, told a joint news conference in Baghdad with his Iraqi counterpart Mohammed Al-Hakim that Iran wants to build balanced relations with its Gulf Arab neighbors and had proposed signing a non-aggression pact with them.

However, Al-Shehri said that Tehran needs to address three key issues — its nuclear program; its terrorist militias, which have been spreading chaos in the Gulf region and beyond; and its ballistic missile program — before making any such proposals.

“The question is, would Iran be ready to give up all three files? If they want their neighbors to accept them and normalize relations with them, they have to be honest and stop playing games,” he said.

Al-Shehri described Zarif’s regional tour as an attempt to rally support and send a false message that Iran has friends and allies who would stand by them in their crisis with the US.

“Where were these countries when Iran’s terrorist proxies in Yemen, the Houthi militias, launched missiles and drones attacking the holiest Islamic site in Makkah and other Saudi facilities?” Al-Shehri asked.

Zarif said Iran will defend itself against any military or economic aggression, calling on European states to do more to preserve a nuclear agreement his country signed.

“We will defend (ourselves) against any war efforts, whether it be an economic war or a military one, and we will face these efforts with strength,” he said.

Strains have increased between Iran and the US following this month’s sabotage attack on oil tankers in the Gulf. Washington and other regional allies have concluded that Iran is most likely behind the attacks. 

Tehran has distanced itself from the bombings, but the US has sent an aircraft carrier and extra 1,500 troops to the Gulf, sparking concerns over the risk of conflict in the volatile region.