A 27-year-old German citizen identified only as Jennifer W. will be tried on Tuesday on a number of charges related to terrorism in the Higher Regional Court of Munich.
According to the indictment, in August 2014 the defendant traveled from Germany to Iraq, where she became an active member of ISIS’s “morality police” (hisbah), responsible for enforcing the terror group’s strict rules on dress code, public behavior, and alcohol and tobacco consumption. She allegedly patrolled parks and public spaces in Fallujah and Mosul with a Kalashnikov assault rifle and an explosive vest.
In the summer of 2015, Jennifer W. and her husband “purchased” a 5-year-old Yazidi girl who was part of a group of prisoners of war. They are accused of enslaving the child and her mother, holding them captive at their home in Fallujah. According to prosecutors, they would chain the child outdoors as a form of punishment. On one of these occasions, the child died of exposure after being shackled outside on an extremely hot day.
Prominent human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, who was appointed as the British government’s special envoy on media freedom last week, is representing the girl’s mother in the proceedings, along with German attorneys Natalie von Wistinghausen and Wolfgang Bendler.
The defendant has been charged with membership in a foreign terrorist organization, murder, murder as a war crime and violations of the German War Weapons Control Act. She faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
This case is believed to be the first prosecution anywhere in the world for international crimes committed by ISIS militants against Yazidi victims. ISIS has waged an organized campaign of executions, enslavement, sexual violence, and forced recruitment of child soldiers, as well as the forcible displacement of an estimated 400,000 Yazidis from their homeland in Iraq.
“Yazidi victims of genocide have waited far too long for their day in court,” said Clooney in a statement. “I am grateful to the German prosecutors who I have worked with for their commitment to holding ISIS members accountable for their crimes. And I hope that this will be the first of many trials that will finally bring ISIS to justice in line with international law.”