Taking ISIS Fighters to Court


By Kenneth R. Rosen—Foreign Affairs—June 26, 2017—

Qaraqosh was once the largest Christian town in Iraq, but after the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) swept into neighboring Mosul in 2014, it became a burned-out shell. Since its liberation, three months into the Battle for Mosul, Qaraqosh regained some normalcy as residents trickled back in and began reconstruction. Part of that rebuilding inevitably involved addressing the damage that civilians sustained during the war against ISIS and, more complexly, deciding what to do with former ISIS fighters in the region. These are some of the challenges that the United Court of Nineveh, which relocated from Mosul after the fighting intensified, is now tasked with resolving. Although the court normally processes civil disputes in the Nineveh province, it now also oversees war reparations and holds investigations of captured ISIS fighters. 

The United Court of Nineveh occupies two buildings in Qaraqosh. One is used to process the ISIS-issued identification documents of Mosul residents who seek to exchange ISIS birth certificates, death certificates, and marriage licenses for official Iraqi ones. The other is used to hear remuneration cases and decide the fate of former ISIS members.