Moroccan IS Fighters Sentenced to Death in by Somali Military Court

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The men – believed to be foreign fighters for the Islamic State extremist group in Somalia – will be executed by a firing squad if their appeal, which they have one month to file, is unsuccessful.

A military court in Somalia’s northeastern semi-autonomous state of Puntland has sentenced to death six Moroccans believed to be foreign fighters for the Islamic State extremist group in Somalia.

The men –  identified as Mohamed Hassan, Ahmed Najwi, Khalid Latha, Mohamed Binu Mohamed Ahmed, Ridwan Abdulkadir Osmany, and Ahmed Hussein Ibrahim – will be executed by a firing squad if their appeal, which they have one month to file, is unsuccessful.

The individuals entered Somalia to cause harm to Muslims and Somalis and incite unrest in the country, the court’s deputy chairman, Col. Ali Ibrahim Osman, said late Thursday.

The military court also gave an Ethiopian and a Somali 10-year prison sentences each, while freeing another Somali defendant due to lack of evidence.

It was not immediately clear where the men were being held on Friday or if any of them had access to legal representation. The eight men claimed they had been misled into joining IS and expressed a desire to be deported to their countries, Osman said.

According to Osman, the six Moroccans were accused of receiving training with IS at its base in the Cal-Miskaat Mountains in northeastern Somalia, which serve as a stronghold for the group.

The Moroccans were apprehended in the mountain range, located to the east of Bosaso, which is the commercial hub of the Puntland region.

The Somali branch of IS was formed in 2015 by a group of defectors from the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabab group, which is the largest jihadist group in Somalia.

The group is notorious for extorting locals and mainly carries out small-scale, sporadic attacks, according to the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

This marks the first time that authorities in the Puntland region have charged or sentenced foreigners for joining IS.

Somalia typically issues the death penalty for crimes connected to terrorism – a practice that has been condemned by several local and international human rights groups, including The Coalition of Somali Human Rights Defenders.

Last month, the coalition and other rights groups said in a report that the country had carried out at least 55 executions in 2023.

The report also said that 23 of the executions done last year were carried out by military authorities in Puntland and Somalia’s capital Mogadishu.