Some of the women smiled as the judge read his rulings in a staccato, rapid-fire rhythm.

“Hanged by the neck until dead,” he said 17 times in a Baghdad court last Monday and Tuesday. At least six more wives of dead or captured foreign Islamic State fighters were sentenced to life in prison.

For some IS supporters, a death sentence can be interpreted as a good thing, according to Judge Abdul Satar Bayraqdar, spokesperson for the High Court in Baghdad. “They think if they are killed, they will be martyred to paradise,” he said.

The condemned women are among 560 foreign wives of IS fighters in Iraq, Bayraqdar said. With the women in detention are 900 children. The fathers are all dead, missing or are captured accused militants.

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