Iraq has begun trying nearly 900 members of the Daesh terrorist group captured in neighboring Syria, a judiciary official says.
The suspects will be tried by the specialized terrorism court which has “received the interrogation files of nearly 900 Iraqi Daesh members coming from Syria,” a court official told AFP on Sunday.
Iraqi authorities say the militants have been captured in Syria and handed over to them by the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
A security source said additional Iraqi suspects, including “very influential leaders” of the Daesh terror group, are in SDF custody and “will be handed over in batches on the Syrian-Iraqi border.”
One of the suspects who would soon be handed over to Baghdad was deeply involved in Daesh efforts to develop chemical weapons, the source said.
Iraq has already tried hundreds of Daesh members, many of whom were detained as the outfit’s strongholds crumbled throughout the country. They have included foreigners, especially Saudi nationals.
The new trial is likely to shed fresh light on foreign links of the terror network, which has wreaked havoc in the region for years.
Saudi Arabia has widely been criticized for allowing a flow of money to finance terrorist groups.
Over the past decade, the Wahhabi kingdom has been instrumental in the spread of the ideology of Takfir, as expressed by groups such as al-Qaeda, Daesh, Nusra Front and Boko Haram.
Saudi nationals reportedly comprised the biggest number of foreign terrorists arrested during Iraqi army operations against Daesh in the northern and western parts of the country.
While some countries like Britain and France are reluctant to take back their citizens arrested in Iraq, Saudi Arabia has requested the extradition of its citizens.
Last year, Iraq rejected a request from Riyadh to hand over more than 400 Saudi Arabians, whom it had imprisoned on terrorism charges. Iraq says all foreign prisoners fall under the jurisdiction of the country’s legal system.
Daesh invaded Iraq in 2014 and overtook around a third of the country’s expanse in exceptionally brutal attacks.
In 2016, Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman Mansour al-Turki famously said that Iraq’s offensive against Daesh had sparked a flurry of new fundraising campaigns in the kingdom, prompting Iraqi Foreign Ministry to call for explanation.
In 2016, Iraq’s ambassador to the UN, Mohammad Ali al-Hakim, accused Saudi Arabia of financing the Daesh terrorist group.
Since Daesh was largely defeated in Iraq and Syria in late 2017, Riyadh has tried to forge closer relations with Baghdad as a counterweight to Tehran.
Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia sent its Minister of Trade Majid bin Abdullah al-Qasabi to Baghdad with a business delegation and reopened its consulate in Iraq.
Al-Qasabi said that the kingdom would provide Iraq with one billion dollars in loans for development projects plus $500 million to boost exports and a gift of a 100,000-seat sports stadium to be built on Baghdad’s outskirts.