Iraq has sentenced to death by hanging a Russian who fought for Islamic State in Mosul, in the first such ruling on a foreign fighter and one which could set a precedent.
The man admitted to being a member of the jihadist group and “carrying out terrorist operations” against Iraqi security forces since 2015, according to a statement released by Baghdad’s central criminal court.
He was charged under the country’s anti-terrorism laws, which provides for death by hanging or firing squad.
Most suspected local Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) members are being tried in northern Iraq, however most foreigners have been taken south to Baghdad.
While the number of detainees has not been made public, Iraqi authorities are thought to be holding several dozen non-Iraqis.
General Yahya Rasool, a spokesman for Joint Operations Command, said the Russian was “the first (jihadist) to surrender” to Iraqi forces in west Mosul, scene of the most ferocious battles.
The 28-year-old fighter was said to have been captured after running out of ammunition.
The Russian was handed over to Iraqi intelligence and then to judicial authorities, said Gen Rasool.
During his interrogation, the Russian said he had studied engineering and discovered Islam in Moscow, where Uzbek construction workers introduced him to the religion.
After obtaining his degree in 2014, the Russia said he travelled to Turkey with the intention of entering Syria to join Isil.
According to his testimony, he pledged allegiance to the jihadist group in Mosul, trained for a month and took the nom de guerre Abu Yasmina al-Russi.
The Russian said he was wounded during combat in Iraq – in the Isil-held cities of Baiji and in Fallujah – before his surrender in Mosul.
Iraqi forces detained hundreds of suspected jihadists during the nine-month operation to recapture the country’s second city, which culminated in July.
They included foreign fighters from a number of Arab and other countries, including Russia, which has faced insurgencies by Chechens and other Muslim groups in the North Caucasus.
It is estimated as many as 7,000 extremists from Russia and other former Soviet states left to join Isil in Iraq and Syria.
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