The Munich Higher Regional Court Monday sentenced Islamic State (IS) woman Jennifer Wenisch to a total of 10 years in prison for membership in a terrorist organization abroad, aiding and abetting attempted murder by omission, and a crime against humanity resulting in death.
The court found the defendant guilty of allowing her former husband Taha al-Jumailly to tie a five-year old Yazidi girl to a courtyard railing in scorching midday heat. The young girl, Rania, who was being punished for wetting her mattress, died as a result of intense heat and thirst. Presiding Judge Joachim Baier commented that the girl was “defenseless and helplessly exposed to the situation” and that the defendant made no attempt to rescue her. Rania and her mother had been enslaved by the IS couple in Mosul, Iraq and were subjected to regular punitive beatings.
The defendant converted to Islam in 2013 from Protestantism. She moved from north-west Germany to Syria in 2014 to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). In Mosul, she was recruited by the IS “moral police,” which is an armed group responsible for enforcing strict jihadist behavioral and dress codes. The defendant confessed her involvement in Rania’s death to an FBI informant, following cooperation between the FBI and German police. Consequently, she was intercepted by the Turkish security services in Ankara while trying to renew her identity papers at the German Embassy and was extradited to Germany.
The verdict marks one of the first indictments of war crimes committed by IS members against the Yazidis, a Kurdish-speaking minority historically persecuted by the IS. Germany has relied on the principle of universal jurisdiction to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity committed abroad. This judgment is a small step in the direction of justice for the victims of atrocities committed by IS members.