German woman charged with war crimes over Yazidi abuse

Jalda A was arrested in October in Frankfurt more than seven years after travelling to Syria to join ISIS

A camp for displaced Yazidi people in Dawudya, north of Duhok in Iraq’s Kurdish region. AFP
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A German woman who married three ISIS fighters in Syria has been charged with war crimes after allegedly abusing a Yazidi slave kept by one of her husbands.

The woman, named only as Jalda A, was arrested in October last year following her return to Frankfurt from a Kurdish-run camp in which she had been held for four years, German authorities said.

She is accused of war crimes, aiding and abetting genocide and joining a foreign terrorist organisation, among other offences, the federal prosecutor general in Karlsruhe, south-west Germany, said.

Last year, Germany convicted an Iraqi ISIS member of genocide against the Yazidi community, the first time such a case has succeeded anywhere in the world.

Taha Al Jumailly, 29, was found guilty in November after enslaving a Yazidi mother and her 5-year-old daughter. The daughter died of heatstroke after being chained up outside without food or water in 2015, when the temperature hit 50°C.

Another woman went on trial last month for crimes against humanity after travelling to Germany as a 15-year-old and was allegedly involved in the trafficking of a Yazidi woman. She was among more than 1,150 extremists who left Germany from 2011 for Syria and Iraq.

In the latest case, the prosecutor said Jalda A’s third husband kept a Yazidi woman as a slave and regularly raped her.

“She herself abused the woman almost every day, especially after the rape,” the prosecutor said. “She regularly punched and kicked the woman, pulled her hair or banged her head against the wall.”

Officials said that Jalda A entered Syria from Turkey in 2014 to join ISIS and married a fighter soon after she arrived. The pair are said to have lived in three homes in the towns of Tal Abyad and Raqqa whose previous residents had fled or been forced out.

Jalda A had a son in February 2015, two months before her husband was killed. She married two more ISIS fighters, eventually living with the third husband in the town of Mayadin in Deir Ezzor, eastern Syria. She was detained in late 2017, officials said.

Thousands of Yazidi women and girls were abducted and enslaved by ISIS when the militants overran northern Iraq in 2014.

About 2,800 Yazidi women and children remain missing since they were taken from Sinjar, Iraq. Many are feared dead, while others are reluctant to return to their communities for fear of rejection.

Updated: February 10, 2022, 3:24 PM