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In Mosul, An Activist Describes Despair And Terror Amid IS Repression


Mosul Eye Facebook page

Mosul Eye Facebook page

"I spend my days, alone, on the roof top monitoring, observing. I refuse leaving my city behind."

These are the words of an anonymous activist in Mosul, who describes feelings of intense despair and terror in the Islamic State-controlled Iraqi city.

The anonymous activist, believed to be a former historian, set up the Mosul Eye Facebook page to document life under IS.

While it is not possible to verify the identity of the author, Iraq watchers have said (here and here) the information is credible.

In his latest post, the anonymous activist describes the sense of disconnectedness he feels as he is forced to put on an act and pretend in order to get by under the brutal regime imposed by IS militants.

Mosul has been under IS control since June 10, and life for its residents is becoming increasingly difficult, according to the few reports that trickle out of the town.

"I am currently living a life that only existed in my wildest dreams. Every move I make, word I say, action I take, is rethought over and over again," the activist wrote on November 6.

The activist's fears are justified. He faces certain death if his identity is revealed to IS.

Since taking over Mosul, IS militants have waged a campaign of terror against journalists and media activists, who the extremist group fears would leak information out of the city.

There have been numerous reports of the militants kidnapping and executing journalists in Mosul.

On November 4, IS gunmen beheaded four journalists in the city, according to German news agency DPA. The victims are thought to be from among a group of 12 journalists abducted by IS last week. A week earlier, on October 28, an RFE/RL correspondent in Iraq reported that IS militants had arrested seven journalists in various districts of Mosul. The fate of the seven remains unknown.

"They had not been working, but journalists are usually held responsible for news filtering out of Mosul, based simply on suspicion and not on any evidence," RFE/RL's correspondent said.

The Mosul Eye activist writes that to survive, he has to do "all that I hate and all that I despise."

"The security -- and secrecy -- measures I must adopt have driven me to read books about the criteria and characteristics of intelligence officers and secret agents. I have even read papers about the mechanisms of mice to combat obstacles, how to run and disappear; all to get a clear perspective on how to deal with any person or situation I might face. I have studied psychological warfare, verbal deception, and even played the insane/stupid/idiotic one in order to lead on those before me. I have taken on several characters and acts. I have observed many films and attempted to carry out parts of their narrative," he writes.

In this atmosphere of terror, the activist says that he still manages to "dream of a civil nation."

"And out of the blue, all my dreams, hopes, aspirations...evaporate," he admits.

A recent two-minute video clip shot in Mosul by an undercover reporter and obtained by the Kurdish outlet Rudaw also provides a rare glimpse of life in the city.

The footage shows how IS militants mix with city residents, although the streets appear to be relatively deserted.

-- Joanna Paraszczuk

About This Blog

"Under The Black Flag" provides news, opinion, and analysis about the impact of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Syria, Iraq, and beyond. It focuses not only on the fight against terrorist groups in the Middle East, but also on the implications for the region and the world. The blog's primary author, James Miller, closely covered the first three years of the Arab Spring, with a focus on Syria, and is now the managing editor of The Interpreter, where he covers Russia's foreign and domestic policy and the Kremlin's wars in Syria and Ukraine. Follow him on Twitter: @Millermena

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