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Iraq court sentences Belgian jihadist to death for IS group membership

AFP , Tuesday 22 May 2018
Tarik
(File photo) Tarik Jadaoun (AFP)
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An Iraqi court on Tuesday sentenced a Belgian jihadist, who threatened Europe in propaganda videos, to death by hanging for membership of the Islamic State 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-IS 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 IS 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 organisers 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 IS, 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 jihadists 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 IS has been a major headache for their home governments, which are often against seeing them return.

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