1) How are ISIS in control?
ISIS tried, since the beginning of their presence in Mosul, to show that they have a big “numerical” force despite their few numbers because their distribution is limited to few central points in the city: their main center is located on the road connecting Al-Sham’s Gate (towards Badoosh) and Mosul, in the military base which was abandoned by the Iraqi army following their withdrawal (also known as “the electricity area”); another main center is in “Msheerfa” area which gathers military barracks that belong to them and a number of “Iraqi” leads within ISIS organization; and ex-counter terrorism center base in addition to other ex-SWAT forces’ bases. Meaning that their localisation is in the western side of Mosul. Their spread, however, in the street is limited to the border points of Mosul’s city: Erbil’s border point (Gogcheli area) where the distance between them [ISIS] and Peshmerga [Kurdish forces] does not exceed 3 km; Duhok point (Al-Qousiyat area) which is parallel to the entrance of Telkeef area (Christian area under the control of Peshmerga); and from southern Mosul’s side, their distribution is an extension to their presence all the way towards Tikrit. As for their presence inside the city and residence neighborhoods, the presence is for the other factions such as: Al-Neqshebendi Way Men Army (Ba’athists); National Movement Militants (their spread started after 5 days of Mosul’s fall); volunteers (who volunteered at the centers opened by ISIS, majority of them are teenagers whose ages are between 17 and 20 years old); Islamic Army (ISIS’ bitter opponent); Ansar [meaning supporters] Al-Sunnah (legitimate [Shariah] board); Ansar Al-Islam [meaning Islam Supporters] (Kurdish majority); Arab and Turkmen Tribes’ Militants; and Al-Taa’fariyoon (known as “Al-a’far in Mosul; they are the militants from Telaa’far who had many operations against the army and police inside Mosul before the crisis). All of these factions are followers to ISIS whether they declared Al-Baya’a [meaning loyalty and obedience] to ISIS or not, as they are all under the rule, governance and authority of ISIS.
2) How do they behave?
ISIS worked, from their first days in Mosul, on delivering the idea that their arrival was to liberate people from injustice and assaults of the Iraqi government and army. They took advantage of the previous cruelty of the army towards the citizens until it reached the point where the city’s people completely rejected the army, police and any other side representing the government. Therefore, ISIS did not face any difficulty worth mentioning in people accepting them. Their slogans in the city were “we’re slaves for Muslims” and we came to liberate you from injustice. They declared these slogans through megaphones from cars, the city’s mosques and groupings. They opened all the roads that were closed before in the city and they did not intervene in people’s movements or actions. Despite forbidding many acts (such as smoking, make-up and women’s outfits) when they declared what so called “the city’s code or constitution” which contained decisions regarding these matters in its sections, people continued to practice those things. I have not observed, throughout my long tours in the city day and night, any changes or fear from smoking and wearing clothes forbid by ISIS. Today, they distributed oil derivatives among owners of electricity generators. All of this is contrasted by a firm stand towards Shiaa, expulsion, killing in specific areas and displacement. They have declared that Shiaa are atheists and the city is a “Sunni city” only.
3) How do they operate and intervene in people’s daily life?
Their involvement in people’s lives is limited to organizing road traffic and waiting queues for gas stations. However, they shut down the governmental offices and the universities in the city. They have not pronounced, until now, anything regarding the presence of an administrative council to run the city, or even to carry on the daily matters. They have also dismantled the courts and declared founding a “legitimate council” responsible for conflict resolution, taking care of people’s matters and receiving their complaints.
4) Have you lived in Mosul all of your life?
I was born, brought up and lived all my life in Mosul. I know it an inch by inch and know people’s customs and traditions as my work determines. I am a historian and a researcher in historical studies. I know the movement of history pretty well and I am very close to the majority of the society’s segments and the street. I have been following the formation/development/emergence of “Jihadist” movements since the beginning of the American occupation of Iraq. I have records and archives for these movements and the mechanics of their formation in the city. Thus, I know exactly how these movements formed in Mosul, their ideologies and beliefs, as I am the son of this environment.
5) Do you consider your updating dangerous?
Yes, what I am delivering as news if it fell in the hands of an ISIS fighter, would lead to my murder in charge of “apostasy” and “treason”. They have been chasing a reporter for Al-Sharqiya channel [Iraqi channel] for few days after he delivered some filmed scenes and reports from inside Mosul; however, he managed to reach Erbil. Therefore, I am going to keep this matter as a secret and you will not want to display my name, as I don’t think you wish for my death.
6) And what are your thoughts on ISIS?
ISIS is a group of unemployed people who were brought up in an environment of poverty and ignorance. Their radicalization and violence stems out from the environment they started from. Those who have joined ISIS in Mosul, whom I know many of them, are from areas inside Mosul which are known for ignorance, poverty and retardation. ISIS is a movement if succeeded to have full control over people, will not show mercy to anyone because they are extreme and radical in everything, and they belong to an ideological movement which is known throughout history, starting from the idea of “Al-Khawaraj” and other radical movements in Islam.