Report: Jihadist born in Switzerland risks death penalty in Iraq

In July 2017, ISIS lost control of its largest city, Mosul, to the Iraqi army. Keystone

An alleged jihadist born and raised in Switzerland is facing trial in the capital of Iraq, according to an investigation conducted by the 10vor10 programme and the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper.

This content was published on January 3, 2019 - 18:31

Iraqi troops captured the 24-year-old man, a Turkish national who grew up in Switzerland, as they regained territory from the Islamic State group.

The man has been brought before a specialised tribunal in Baghdad where he faces the death penalty, according to an Arabic article published in a magazine of the Iraqi judicial authorities.

The article describes the man as a native from the northeastern Swiss town of Arbon who used the battle name "Obeida" and had a Turkish first name.

The Swiss attorney general told public broadcaster SRF that criminal proceedings were brought against this man in Switzerland in 2015 over his suspected membership in a terrorist group.

The proceedings were suspended in December 2016 but as a precaution he has been banned from entering Switzerland.

Federal police spokeswoman Catherine Maret told  SRF: "We can do that if we have the feeling that there is a threat to internal security - which is the case here".

The Iraqi authorities apparently quote from interrogation records in the article and refer to him as an IS member.

The man from Switzerland had been trained in the use of weapons in a training camp in Syria.

Afterwards, according to his testimony, he was sent to Iraq where he was asked what type of training he had.

"I said that I worked in the field of power and electricity," the Iraqi judiciary quoted him as saying. Then follows his explosive confession: "For nine months I built the circuits for explosive charges".

He is accused of working as a bomb maker for ISIS.

An investigation into his childhood in Switzerland found that “Obeida” only completed elementary school and that the electronics training related to an internship of several months in this field. In Arbon, “Obeida” was apparently part of a group of jihadis.

Rights group stress that criminal trials in Iraq do not meet Europe's constitutional standards. Judgments are usually handed down without sound evidence, trials are often very brief, the accused might not be heard, and confessions are extracted under the force of torture.

“Obeida” reportedly has a lawyer but he has never been allowed to speak to his client. The lawyer is working to avert the execution of a death sentence.

The man from Arbon had a C residence permit in Switzerland but no citizenship. As such, the Swiss foreign ministry has not offered him consular assistance.

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