Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said that the 16-year-old German 'jihadi bride', who had joined the Islamic State (Isis) group and is now under detention in Iraq, could face death penalty for her involvement with the terrorist organisation.
Sixteen-year-old Linda Wenzel was found with a malnourished baby boy in the basement of a bomb-ravaged fortress in Mosul in July this year during an offensive by the Iraqi soldiers to overthrow Isis from the city. She had run away from her home in Germany to join the terror outfit.
Al-Abadi said that Wenzel's fate will now be decided by the Iraqi judiciary. "You know teenagers under certain laws, they are accountable for their actions especially if the act is a criminal activity when it amounts to killing innocent people," the Iraqi PM told the Associated Press in an interview.
Wenzel is currently in a prison in Baghdad awaiting trial to determine whether or not she will be sentenced to death. Iraqi intelligence forces told AP that Wenzel allegedly worked with the "police force" of Isis.
Al-Abadi said that 1,333 women and children surrendered to the Kurdish forces during the offensive against Isis in Mosul. He added that several among those detained are innocent and that the government was in touch with their home countries to "find a way to hand them over".
Deport her so she can have a fair trial: Father
Following Al-Abadi's statement that the German teenager could face death penalty, Wenzel's father Reiner has reportedly requested the Iraqi authorities to deport her to Germany so that she can have a "fair trial".
If Wenzel is tried in Germany, she could face a jail term between one and 10 years. The German Foreign Ministry had earlier said that they were working on bringing back Wenzel and three other German women imprisoned in Iraq. However, there is no extradition treaty between Germany and Iraq presently.
'I just want to go home to my family'
When German media outlets had interviewed the teenager in the infirmary of a military complex in Baghdad in July, she had said that she was exhausted and just wanted to return home.
"I just want to get away from here. I want to get away from the war, from the many weapons, from the noise... I just want to go home to my family," Wenzel was quoted as saying. The German media had said that Wenzel regretted joining Isis and just wanted to be extradited to Germany for which she was willing to cooperate with the authorities.
German media outlets further reported that the Wenzel had sustained injuries, including a gunshot wound on her left thigh and an injury on her right knee, which according to her, was caused during a helicopter attack.
Iraqi journalist Amir Musawy, who had met Wenzel following her arrest, was quoted by the Independent as saying that she was "exhausted" when he spoke to her. He added that he wasn't sure whether the teenager realised the seriousness of the situation she is currently in.
"I do not have the feeling that she understands what she did and what she might have waiting for her, whether in Iraq or in Germany... She just told me that she wants her home back, like a journey that she went on and did not like... It's like she is still thinking like a child or a young woman and not understanding what is waiting for her," Musawy said.
How did Wenzel end up joining ISIS?
Wenzel had fled her home in Pulsnitz in Saxony after her mother Katharina began a relationship with the caretaker of a school following the end of her marriage. The teenager's friends in school revealed how she had become insecure after her mother moved in with the caretaker Thomas Weiss.
In May 2016, Wenzel got in touch with an Islamist preacher on the internet in Hamburg in Germany, who sent her a copy of the Koran. The jihadi brainwashed her into joining Isis in Syria. Wenzel took her mother's credit card and travelled from Berlin to Turkey before reaching Mosul, where she changed her name to Umm Mariam and became a jihadi bride.
Christina, her friend from school, was quoted by the Sun as saying: "It (Koran) seemed to offer her answers in a confused life... Last summer... she began leaving home with a small bag in which she had an Islamic headscarf and long flowing robes which she donned to cover up all her skin. There were some arguments with staff."
Wenzel said that she was unhappy at home before she turned to Islam. She began talking to Isis followers in the Middle East through the internet due to which she was also under the observation of German intelligence officials who suspected her of planning an act of terror against the state.