UN team delivers report on Islamic State atrocities committed in Iraq
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UN team delivers report on Islamic State atrocities committed in Iraq

The head of the United Nations team investigating Islamic State crimes in Iraq Thursday delivered his report to the Security Council, accusing Islamic State (IS) actors of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Christian Ritscher, Special Adviser and Head of the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by the Da’esh/Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (UNITAD), reported to the Council that his team had uncovered evidence of the deaths of at least 1,000 Shiite prisoners at a prison in Mosul in June 2014. The executions had been planned in detail by senior IS members. The team also carried out an analysis of battlefield evidence that showed IS developed and deployed chemical weapons as part of a long-term strategic plan. The team identified more than 3,000 victims of chemical attacks to date.

Investigations also revealed the inner workings of the Bayt al-Mal, or “House of Money,” the central IS treasury in charge of collecting, storing, and managing the group’s wealth. They have identified senior IS members who acted as key financiers, who acquired the extremist group’s funding through pillage, theft, and the imposition of an exploitative tax system upon those subject to IS rule. Mr. Ritscher also called attention to the prosecution in Germany of an IS member for the crime of genocide, in which a 5-year-old Yezidi girl was left to die in 50 C (122 F) degree heat in Falluja.

Saying “we now stand at a turning point,” Mr. Ritscher emphasized that the international community has “the chance, collectively, to make such prosecutions the norm, not a celebrated exception.” Members of the Security Council praised UNITAD’s work but also pointed out the need for the evidence that has been gathered to make its way into judicial proceedings via cooperation with Iraqi authorities. For his part, the representative from Iraq, Mohammed Hussein Bahr Aluloom, said that his government stands ready to pursue IS members for their crimes, noting that the government has been strengthening the capacity of its judicial system and is prepared to assess the evidence as soon as UNITAD provides it.