ISIL member who called for execution of 2 Turkish soldiers is free on bail: journalist

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An alleged member of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) who issued a fatwa, or Islamic ruling, for the execution of two Turkish soldiers who had been taken hostage by the radical group in Syria lives in southeastern Turkey and is free on bail while standing trial, according to a Turkish journalist.

The claim about Jamal Abdul Tahman Alwi, a so-called ISIL qadi, a Muslim judge who renders decisions according to Islamic law, was raised by journalist İsmail Saymaz in his column on the Halk TV news website on Friday.

According to Saymaz, Alwi issued a fatwa for the execution of Turkish soldiers Fethi Şahin and Sefer Taş, who had been taken hostage by ISIL in the al-Bab region of northern Syria in late 2016.

Photos and a video allegedly of the two soldiers being burned alive were shared online on ISIL accounts in December 2016, leading to outrage.

Turkish government officials were outraged following the release of the video and criticized people who spread it without verifying its authenticity. An access ban was immediately imposed on social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

The Turkish government has to date not made any statement as to the authenticity of the video.

The soldiers were sent to Syria as part of Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield, to help Syrian rebels drive ISIL from the border city of Jarabulus on in August 2016, in a dramatic escalation of its involvement in the Syrian civil war.

According to Saymaz, Alwi, who had been living in the southeastern province of Gaziantep for some time, was coincidentally captured in a police operation in June 2020 and was sent to jail. He was subsequently indicted on charges of leading a terrorist organization. In the indictment, he is accused of serving in ISIL between 2013 and 2016, acting as a qadi for the radical group and issuing fatwas for the execution of people including the two Turkish soldiers. The first hearing of his trial took place in September 2020. He was released pending trial in March 2021 due to a lack of sufficient evidence against him and because there was no possibility of his tampering with evidence. Although a travel ban was imposed on him following his release, it was lifted in June.

Saymaz said Alwi continues his life in Gaziantep as usual and runs a store where he sells birds.

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