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UAE woman sentenced to death for killing US teacher

abu dhabi

ABU DHABI: A United Arab Emirates court sentenced an Emirati woman to death on Monday after convicting her of the jihadist-inspired murder of an American teacher, Abu Dhabi newspaper The National reported.

Alaa Bader al-Hashemi, 30, was found guilty of stabbing to death teacher Ibolya Ryan, 47, in a shopping mall toilet, as well as “creating a handmade bomb” she placed in front of an Egyptian-American doctor’s home, the paper said.

The attacks took place within hours of each other in the UAE capital on December 1. Tracked down using CCTV footage of her going into and out of the restroom where the teacher’s murder took place and near the doctor’s building, Hashemi was arrested 48 hours later.

She was dressed in black from head-to-toe as she carried out both attacks.

Hashemi was arrested at her home where her car was found with blood on the steering wheel and bomb making materials inside.

Hashemi “was also found guilty of sending money to Al-Qaeda in Yemen, knowing the funds would be used in terrorist acts,” The National said.

The ruling was made by the Federal Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi, which means it cannot be appealed. Hashemi, surrounded by four police officers, “showed no emotion as the verdict and sentence were announced,” the daily said.

The president can, however, decide to overturn the sentence or reduce it.

International media have been denied access to her trial, which began on March 23.

Hashemi had asked the court to provide her with psychological help, saying she had “unreal visions” and would see “ghost-like people” due to a chronic mental illness.

The court ordered psychiatric tests which it said showed she was aware of her actions.

In March, Attorney General Salem Saeed Kubaish said that investigators found she had listened to lectures by late Al-Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, watched video clips of killings and beheadings, among other similar activities.

“She embraced takfiri and jihadist ideology and then engaged in terrorist acts in support of the terrorist organisations Al-Qaeda and Daesh,” Kubaish said using an Arabic acronym for the self-styled Islamic State group. The convict was also said to have created an Internet account to promote the “ideas of a terrorist group”.

The judge on Monday “ordered the confiscation of all evidence and the shutting down of the online account Hashemi had used,” The National said.

Kubaish has said that Hashemi had confessed “in detail to investigators to have committed these crimes,” but during the court hearings, the woman denied all charges and alleged that she was mistreated during interrogation and forced to confess.

Hashemi had been dubbed the “Reem Island Ghost” after the location of the mall where the stabbing of Ryan, a mother of three, took place.

As she was led from court she smiled and waved at her father and brother, who were in court to witness the proceedings.

Violent crime is relatively rare in the UAE, home to millions of foreign workers. And while capital punishment is legal in the UAE, executions are rarely carried out.

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