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Friday 19 April 2019
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Trini mother faces Iraqi judge

PM’s former advisor claims TT women not ISIS fighters as…

Azeeza Williams, 34, stands inside the Central Criminal Court, Bhagdad, Iraq, recently. Photo taken from New Yorker article
Azeeza Williams, 34, stands inside the Central Criminal Court, Bhagdad, Iraq, recently. Photo taken from New Yorker article

ANOTHER TT national, Azeeza Williams, 34, of Rio Claro, is believed to have faced a judge in Iraq two weeks ago and sentenced.

Newsday was unable to confirm with authorities in capital Bhagdad yesterday, but Azeeza’s grandfather, 1990 coup-maker Nazim Mohammed of Rio Claro, said, “It appears that there was a hearing and once more I am appealing to the authorities in the government here, to make representation to have my daughters and their children return home.”

Mohammed, 74, is Imam of Boos Village jamaat and Azeeza’s mother, Aneesa, 54, is his daughter who had a court hearing early last year and was sentenced to 20 years in jail for entering Iraq illegally to join ISIS.

Her husband, Daud Mohammed, 56, is feared killed.

Mohammed’s two other granddaughters Sabirah Mohammed Kumar, 24, and Aidah Mohammed, 28, who are Aneesa and Daud’s children as well, have had similar court hearings and are holed up in Iraqi detention centres.

Mohammed told Newsday yesterday that his last telephone conversation with Sabirah was two weeks ago. But, he said, she was unaware of Azeeza’s court appearance. Sabirah is allowed a telephone call twice a month to speak to her grandfather.

However, a photograph in the New Yorker online newspaper published on Christmas Eve headlined “Iraq’s post-ISIS campaign of revenge,” by reporter Ben Taub highlights the court trials of hundreds of men and women from various countries who migrated to fight for ISIS.

Taub writes, “Thousands of men and boys have been convicted of ISIS affiliation and hundreds have been hanged. But these cases make up only a small fraction of the detainees.

“Thousands of families have been sent to camps in the desert, cast out from society.

The article makes no mention of Azeeza, who is a mother of three children, but the New Yorker carries a photo of the inside the Central Criminal Court in Bhagdad. Taub writes, “Thousands of men and boys have been convicted of ISIS affiliation and hundreds have been hanged. But these cases make up only a small fraction of the detainees. Thousands of families have been sent to camps in the desert, cast out from society.”

He gave an account of trials he witnessed which lasted not more than four minutes. The judge passed sentence of death on men who said they were tortured to sign confessions and blank paper.

Taub made no mention of Azeeza in his article, but speaking to Newsday yesterday, Mohammed said, “I believe there was a hearing recently, but Sabirah, when I talked to her two weeks, looked like she didn’t want to tell me. What harm can women with little children do?

“I’m appealing to my own Attorney General, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of National Security, to intervene. After all, they are citizens of this country.”

Nafeesa Mohammed: ‘It’s a big mistake’

Former legal advisor in the prime minister’s office Nafeesa Mohammed, has appealed for government’s intervention on behalf of the women and their children who are holed up in Iraq.

Yesterday, she told the Newsday there was absolutely no evidence they were fighters for ISIS. She said, “How could you have citizens of our country jailed for 15 and 20 years; those of whom are women, for simply entering a country illegally. Their’s absolutely no evidence that these women went across there to fight for ISIS.”

Mohammed said she had been engaged in a research project about TT being propagated as an exporter of ISIS fighters. She will make public her findings, she said, but told Newsday that, thus far, “there’s little evidence to suggest these men took their wives and children to go and fight war in muslim countries.”

Mohammed said, “To me, it is a big mistake. I’m seeking to examine each case separately. The public is made to believe that the muslim community in TT is producing ISIS fighters. That is not what we have found.”

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