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Updated: June 26, 2011 15:38 IST

Al-Qaida leader’s wife gets 20 years in prison

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Abu Ayyub al-Masri, al-Qaida leader. File photo
AP Abu Ayyub al-Masri, al-Qaida leader. File photo

An Iraqi court has sentenced the wife of a slain al-Qaida leader to 20 years in prison on terrorism-related charges, an Iraqi judicial spokesman said Sunday.

Hasna Ali Yahya, the Yemeni wife of Abu Ayyub al-Masri, was convicted last Thursday, according to Iraqi Supreme Judicial Council spokesman Abdul-Sattar Bayrkdar.

Mr. Bayrkdar didn’t give details on the charges, but a government official said she was convicted of facilitating correspondence between insurgents and preparing explosive-laden belts. The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to release information.

The mother of three has been in custody since the April 2010 joint U.S.-Iraqi north of Baghdad that killed al-Masri along with another prominent al-Qaida in Iraq militant.

Six months later, Iraq’s al-Qaida umbrella group, the Islamic State of Iraq threatened to kidnap family members of Iraqi politicians and ministers if al-Masri’s wife and children were not released.

Last month, the two daughters and son were handed over to their uncle in Yemen, according to a Yemeni diplomat in Baghdad. The youngest child is 18 months old, while the others are 9 and 7, the diplomat said. He spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to release information.

Al-Masri, an Egyptian, joined al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan in the late 1990s and trained as a car bomb expert before travelling to Iraq after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, U.S. officials have said.

He led the terror organization after Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born founder of al-Qaida in Iraq, was killed in June 2006. The group launched a bombing campaign shortly afterward to show that al-Qaida was far from eliminated.

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