A that trial opened yesterday in Munich, Germany, amid massive security, sees a German woman charged with war crimes. Jennifer Wenisch, 27, joined the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria and Iraq. She and her husband are accused of letting a five-year-old Yazidi “slave” girl die of thirst, Asia News reports.
The case is the first of its kind in the world for crimes committed by former Caliphate jihadists against the Yazidi minority, particularly affected by the madness of Sunni radicals.
Wenisch is charged with various charges: murder, murder as a war crime, membership in a terrorist organisation and violation of the German War Weapons Control Act. If she is convicted, she could get life in prison.
German prosecutors allege the German foreign fighter and her IS husband bought the Yazidi child and her mother, a co-plaintiff in the trial, as “slaves” whom they held captive whilst living in Mosul, an IS stronghold in Iraq, in 2015.
“After the girl fell ill and wet her mattress, the husband of the accused chained her up outside as punishment and let the child die an agonising death of thirst in the scorching heat,” prosecutors charge. For her part, “The accused allowed her husband to do so and did nothing to save the girl.”
German media report that the defendant’s husband, Taha Sabah Noori Al-J., beat both Yazidi mother and child and that his wife also once held a pistol to the woman’s head.
Wenish, who reportedly had a troubled past and left school at an early age, eventually converted to Islam in 2013, and travelled in mid-2014 from Germany via Turkey and Syria to Iraq where she joined IS. Recruited in mid-2015 to an anti-vice squad in the group’s self-styled hisbah morality police, she patrolled city parks in IS-occupied Fallujah and Mosul.
Armed with an AK-47 rifle, a pistol and an explosives vest, her task was to ensure strict IS rules on dress code, public behaviour and bans on alcohol and tobacco. In January 2016, months after the Yazidi child’s death, the accused visited the German Embassy in Ankara to apply for new identity papers.
When she left the mission, she was arrested by Turkish security services and extradited several days later to Germany. Because of a lack of evidence against her at the time, she was allowed to return to her home in Lower Saxony, but quickly tried to return to IS territory.
Her trial raises questions about the fate of IS foreign fighters, most of whom have been rejected by their country of origin. The EU Commission estimates that about 42,000 people joined terrorist groups between 2011 and 2016, including 5,000 from Europe.
At first many governments refused to repatriate their citizens, but pressure from the United States forced some countries to give in.
Macedonia was the first; in 2018, it repatriated seven militants. In January, France examined the possibility of taking back 130 men and women, but has done nothing so far. Germany too is taking its time, closely monitoring developments in Paris.