A human rights lawyer and activist was killed in the Iraqi city of Mosul by Islamic State militants because of Facebook posts critical of the group's destruction of shrines, churches, mosques and cultural sites, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq reported Thursday.
Sameera Salih Ali Al-Nuaimy was taken from her home by Islamic State militants on Sept. 17, reportedly after she wrote the posts on her Facebook page. She was convicted of apostasy by a sharia court in line with the severe religious beliefs of the group, which broke away from Al Qaeda this year in part because of their brutal tactics.
Al-Nuaimy was held for five days after being tried and was tortured, apparently in an attempt to force her to repent, and then was publicly killed, the U.N. said.
Islamic State has made public killings a hallmark of its rule in much of the territory it controls across Iraq and Syria. In Raqqah, the group's stronghold in Syria, corpses are left to rot in public squares as a warning for others who may challenge their rule.
"The public execution … is yet another of the innumerable sickening crimes committed against the people of Iraq by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant," Nickolay Mladenov, special representative of the U.N. Secretary-General for Iraq, said, using a former name for the group. "My heartfelt condolences are extended to Ms. Al-Nuaimy's family and to the thousands other victims of ISIL's brutality."
When Islamic State overran Mosul on June 10, they were initially welcomed by many of the city's Sunni residents, who celebrated the rout of the Iraqi army, seen as little more than a sectarian force. But as Islamic State began to impose its brutal interpretation of Islam on residents and destroyed sites of religious and cultural importance to many religions and sects, the people of Mosul began to chafe under the group's rule.
In late July, Islamic State blew up a mosque said to house the tomb of prophet Jonah, revered by both Muslims and Christians. Many of the city's Sunnis began to turn against the group.
"ISIL continues to attest to its infamous nature, combining hatred, nihilism and savagery, as well as its total disregard of human decency," Mladenov said. "ISIL has repeatedly targeted the weak and defenseless in acts of brutality and cowardice that are beyond description, bringing about unfathomable suffering to all Iraqis regardless of their gender, age, religion, faith or ethnicity."