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Iraqi education minister resigns over brother's links with ISIS

Shaima’ al-Hayali
Former Iraqi Education Minister Shaimaa al-Hayali

Iraqi Education Minister Shaimaa al-Hayali resigned on Saturday after information about her elder brother’s ties with ISIS were circulated.

Hayali was appointed minister of education in the government of Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi on Monday. She resigned after Iraqi social media pages circulated videos and photos users claimed confirmed her brother, Laith al-Hayali, became a member of the terror organization after the fall of Mosul

In a statement, Hayali said ISIS “had forced everyone to work for them, “uttering threats” against those who refused once they seized Mosul in 2014. She argued her brother was among those pressured to hold his official post under the self-proclaimed Caliphate’s rule.

A video recording that was published on social media websites and news outlets published a video recording, broadcast by ISIS propaganda website, showing a man who is believed to be the minister’s brother talking about US bombardments on bridges in Mosul.

The video showed that her brother, along with one of his sons, had fled from Iraq to Turkey using false passports, after he lost two of his sons during the suicide bombing operations against the Iraqi army.

For his part, Iraqi politician, Atheel al-Nujaifi, who served as the governor of Nineveh Province from April 2009 until May 2015, affirmed he has information that prove Laith’s involvement with ISIS and that he had him moved out of the province before. He also stressed in press remarks that he did not know Shaimaa, however, he recognized her brother when he saw the circulated video.

“I am an Iraqi woman, first and foremost, and independent. I never worked with any party or political bloc,” she said in her statement, adding that her appointment to the ministry of education was because she was an academic from the University of Mosul, which is known for its high cadres.

“My brother’s condition is like that of tens of thousands of cases, where people were forced to remain in their jobs under the authority of an occupying power,” Shaimaa al-Hayali said, contradicting Nujaifi’s statement that Laith always bragged about joining ISIS when he returned after Mosul was occupied.

“As defined by international law, and no one who has been subjected to this power against his will can be punished solely for having to stay under their control,” she added.

Hayali proclaimed her own innocence, denouncing “the people of any terrorist or criminal group who has tainted their hand with the blood of Iraqis.”

According to security sources, Hayali also has two cousins who belong to ISIS.

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