Iraq sentences ISIS member to death over 2014 pilgrim bombing

An Iraqi court on Thursday sentenced an ISIS member to death after convicting him of involvement in a 2014 suicide bombing that killed 17 pilgrims, the judiciary said.

The attack in Taji district north of Baghdad targeted a “mawkeb,” one of the many stalls providing free food and drinks to pilgrims during Shia Muslim festivals.

The pilgrims had been heading on foot to Samarra, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Baghdad, to commemorate the anniversary of the death of Imam Hassan al-Askari (AS), one of 12 imams.

A criminal court in Baghdad on Thursday sentenced “a terrorist to death for the explosion of a mawkeb in 2014” during the pilgrimage in Samarra, the judiciary said on its website.

The statement did not name the convict but said he had “filmed the tragedy because he was a member of the terrorist groups of Daesh,” using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.

The convict has the right to appeal the verdict.

After rapidly taking over large swathes of territory in Iraq and neighboring Syria, ISIS saw its self-proclaimed “caliphate” collapse under successive offensives in both countries.

Iraqi authorities declared “victory” over the extremist group at the end of 2017, but extremist cells continue to sporadically launch attacks, particularly on military and police personnel in remote areas of central and northern Iraq.

In late August, three people were hanged in Iraq after being convicted over an ISIS attack that killed 323 people in Baghdad in July 2016.

Amnesty International said Iraq was the world’s sixth biggest executioner last year, with at least 11 carried out.

More than 41 death sentences were issued in 2022, and more than 45 people were executed in 2020, according to the London-based human rights group.

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