Islamic State has sanctioned the harvesting of human organs in a previously undisclosed ruling by the group's Islamic scholars, raising concerns that the violent extremist group may be trafficking in body parts.
The ruling, contained in a January 31, 2015 document reviewed by Reuters, says taking organs from a living captive to save a Muslim's life, even if it is fatal for the captive, is permissible.
For a U.S. government translation of the document, click here
Reuters couldn't independently confirm the authenticity of the document. U.S. officials say it was among a trove of data and other information obtained by U.S. special forces in a raid in eastern Syria in May.
"The apostate's life and organs don't have to be respected and may be taken with impunity," says the document, which is in the form of a fatwa, or religious ruling, from the Islamic State's Research and Fatwa Committee.
"Organs that end the captive's life if removed: The removal of that type is also not prohibited," Fatwa Number 68 says, according to a U.S. government translation.
The document does not offer any proof that Islamic State actually engages in organ harvesting or organ trafficking. But it does provide religious sanction for doing so under the group's harsh interpretation of Islam - which is rejected by most Muslims. Previously, Iraq has accused Islamic State of harvesting human organs and trafficking them for profit.
The document does not define "apostate," though the Islamic State has killed or imprisoned non-Muslims, such as Christians, and Shiite Muslims, as well as Sunni Muslims who don't follow its extremist views.
U.S. officials say the records that were seized have given the U.S. government a deep look into how Islamic State organizes, raises funds and codifies laws for its followers.
Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations, Mohamed Ali Alhakim, told Reuters the documents should be examined by the U.N. Security Council as evidence that Islamic State could be trafficking in organs to raise cash.