download the report (pdf file) – Mosul under IS – Part I – Efficiency – April 2020 LQSdM
Mosul under the so-called Caliphate of the Islamic State:
what really happened…between efficiency and brutality
PART I: EFFICIENCY
Laura Quadarella Sanfelice di Monteforte
- Are we sure to know what really happened?
During almost three years, the Islamic State has controlled and administered a very wide area, inhabited by millions of people, materializing what has always been the dream of many jihadist groups. Still, even if a lot has been written and said on the Islamic State (IS) and on the so-called Caliphate of IS, extremely scarce are the testimonies from the inside. It is for this reason that we, in the West, do not know what really happened. I mean, we had a lot of testimonies by those belonging to persecuted minorities, but almost no account by citizens who lived, unwillingly, this experience had reached us. They are inhabitants that were not able to leave Mosul after the arrival of the men of Al Baghdadi, or that decided to not abandon their houses, families and jobs, for different reasons; they are all Sunni people, that suffered, even unwillingly, this experience, by living in the so-called Caliphate, among the most incredible brutality, but also the equally incredible efficiency of its administration.
This lack of information is still a great problem, as only by knowing what happened exactly in the territory of the Caliphate self-proclaimed by Al Baghdadi, we can learn to know and understand IS, whose ideas are not dead neither after the loss of territorial control, nor with the killing of its leader. Only this way, therefore, we will be able to fight the Islamic State and the wider phenomenon of jihadism, at the base of its actions. Only this way, too, we will be able to understand why thousands of youngsters have joined it, and went to combat in the Syrian-Iraqi theater, or in other crisis areas, or to simply carry on attacks in the country where they live, and we will be able to reply to the question “why are they attacking us”. Only this way, finally, we will have some more elements to understand a Region which since years is transforming itself in a powder keg ready to explode.
And only by knowing what really happened, and the feelings of Iraqi citizens under the territorial control by Al Baghdadi men, we will be able to understand why IS was born in the North of Iraq, how it developed itself, and by whom it was supported. By this way we will be able to understand also when and under what form it could come back, as it has not been annihilated. On the contrary, indeed, two years after the fall of the Caliphate and after Western proclaims, IS is becoming strong again in this area, as the ideas which were at its base cannot be destroyed from the outside: unfortunately, often, when someone tries to cancel ideas without understanding them, by imposing others, not only there is the risk to see them coming back, but in fact their return is favored, even if unwillingly. In addition, it would not be possible to totally eliminate these ideas, as they are in part rooted among the members of some Sunni groups since one century. These ideas, as well as the dream of the caliphate, are growing ever since the end of the First World War.
We cannot therefore consider IS actions as those of a generic terrorist group, without inserting them in the frame of a wider context, and also in the light of the beliefs of the Sunni Arabs of the Region, who, by the way, distinguish themselves since decades for the compliance with the rules prescribed by the Koran, and they are a minority in an Iraq, “designed” on the basis of the so-called Sykes-Picot agreement, and especially of the subsequent Treaty of Sèvres. A minority, the Arab-Sunnis of Mosul, who, to use their words, starting from 2003 felt itself “dominated and vexed”, first by the “occupying American troops” and then by the “Shiites who govern from Baghdad, without caring about the interests of Mosul Sunnis, from whom they took only oil revenues, without distributing wealth neither in town nor providing efficient services”.
In fact, the arrogance and the haste of Al Baghdadi (whose personal rivalry with Al Zawahiri for the leadership of the jihadist galaxy has caused the birth of a harsh competition between Al Qaeda and the Islamic State), have led to a rapid territorial expansion and later to a quasi-sudden military defeat. But Al Baghdadi actions have also shown that the Caliphate is something more concrete than it might be imagined. IS has, in fact, been able to attract tens of thousands of youngsters from all over the world, thus fomenting a fire which will really extinguish itself only if the right way to do it will be found, and neither the blind repression nor the imposition of exogenous rules appear to be the right way to avoid any faction and Sunny tribes of the Levant (and not only them) regret some aspects of the Caliphate, created by the men in black of the Islamic State.
These men, in the name of those which appear to us in the West only delirious theories and rules of a distorted interpretation of Islam, has in fact ruled during three years vast areas, committing unspeakable crimes, but also providing to a wide part of the population those services, that security and that fight against corruption which they waited for since years, and that, with the fall of the so-called Caliphate, have lost again, in the name of a democracy, whose meaning they have sometimes difficulty to fully understand.
Two were, in fact, the key aspects of IS administration: efficiency and brutality.
These are therefore the two key points which should guide the reading of any aspect of this analysis, which is based on the witnesses of some brave Mosul citizens with whom I have been spoken for the last two years in order to understand what really happened. In some paragraphs there will be present, in inverted commas, the exact words, used by Mosul inhabitants, and especially needed when they appear to be strange in the light of beliefs present in the West.
Thanks to some testimonies, we can therefore add to the terrible accounts of the crimes committed by IS, well known thanks to the invaluable testimonies of all those have succeeded, during these years, to evade from persecutions (mostly Syrian Shiites and those belonging to the persecuted minorities), also the description of the several aspects of the daily life of a Sunni town at “the time of the self-proclaimed Caliphate of Al Baghdadi”.
Indeed, only dust and ruins are what is left of Mosul, the second town of Iraq, dust and ruins are what is left of the capital of an ancient Empire, what is left of the mythical Nineveh, but we had to ask: “What happened?”. There could be a very simple answer: according to Western press the Islamic State has conquered the town and has destroyed it. And before doing so, its men have pillaged each house, shut the shops, blocked commerce, starved the population, interrupted the provision of the most basic public services and, naturally, violated women, sold kids, killed men with summary executions. Yes, because surely, they are the bad guys, and the rogues do this.
But sometimes history is different, destruction can come from those whom we classify as good guys, as those who are rightly written on the blackboard as bad guys do not necessarily destroy blindly everything! In fact, nobody owns the absolute truth, and nobody carries an absolute error, and this is even truer in the domain of international relations.
The Islamic State occupied through force a very large territory and administered it during almost three years by committing several crimes, causing in fact the destruction of many cities and their inhabitants, and concentrating its action in particular against some ethnicities, so that, in this case, it is correct to speak about mass-slaughter or even act of genocide (think at the Yazidi). IS has deliberately destroyed a large part of the existing archaeologic patrimony, as well.
However, it did not administer its territories by behaving precisely how it has been normally told to us. For this reason, we decided to analyze several aspects of the administration of Mosul under the so-called Caliphate and of the daily life of its Sunni inhabitants in that period.
- Some clarification
First of all, it is necessary to explain that there were numerous Mosul families who, in June 2014, facing the end of the resistance by the Iraqi Army, decided to escape, to bring their families to safety, at the arrival of “terrorists”, as the men of Al Baghdadi were considered that way: not invaders, but terrorists, thus dangerous people. A lot has been written on the choices made by Mosul inhabitants, and it was even stated that IS opponents fled, while the supporters stayed, or at least it was said that to stay meant for someone support for IS, acknowledging of its sovereignty, and preferring its administration to the one of the Iraqi government, but in reality it was not so. Thanks to the numerous testimonies collected, I have been able to ascertain that neither in this initial phase, nor in the subsequent years, to stay or to leave meant supporting or opposing IS.
However, what surprised mostly the great part of these families that at the very beginning managed to escape was the account of what was happening, which was relayed to them by phone by friends and relatives who had remained in Mosul: during the initial days the situation was not similar to what was feared, and in the accounts received, the dreaded “terrorists” were instead working for the good of the town.
Indeed, after more than ten years, it seemed that, under some extent, life as it was before the so-called “US invasion”, the happy life enjoyed in Mosul until 2003, had come back, and all this was the opposite of the account heard since some time on IS. Many felt a mix of fear and hope for the future, feelings which in a very small part leaked also in the West, thanks to interviews to some Mosul citizens, who told that, unlike what they feared, no house was destroyed nor any woman was raped, while on the contrary IS men seemed to work for the good of the city.
Therefore, many among the Sunni inhabitants who had fled decided to return, being almost “excited” by the idea of returning to their Homeland, to their house, to their own beloved, and even more so in a city which was “blooming again”, as if IS men had not occupied it, but had “liberated” it. Also, as the blogger Mosul Eye wrote, the men of IS themselves worked since the very first days to give the impression that their arrival had the “aim of freeing the citizens from the injustice and the assaults of the Iraqi government and Army”, thus succeeding in their intent to persuade, thanks to the behavior displayed for years by the Iraqi Army and administration.
Mosul, too, had returned being “important and central” as in the times of Saddam Hussein. Probably the town became even more important, as it, together with Raqqa, was chosen as the Capital of the Islamic State (called by them in Arabic الدولة الإسلامية, ad-Dawlah al-Islāmiyah, or simply الدولة, ad-Dawlah), besides being the Capital of the Province of Nineveh (ولاية نينوى, Wilayat Ninawa).
But, more importantly, after IS arrival Mosul was a city which was again “clean”. Yes, this term was referred to me, much to my surprise, by many: clean! Everything was clean, both in a material and figurative sense, because IS put an end to corruption, which had been the master since the end of Saddam’s regime in 2003.
Naturally, all citizens told me that a number of restrictions were immediately noted, both for women and for other aspects of daily life, but initially these were not oppressive rules, and each violation was followed only by a verbal reprimand on the road, by some young and hot-headed boy, nothing more. It appeared, therefore, a situation fully acceptable from their standpoint and for their standards.
In order to better understand the feelings of the Sunni inhabitants of Mosul, we have to explain that, at the very beginning, the Islamic State’s men seem to them to be terrorist, not invaders: they were dangerous terrorists, but just terrorists, not invaders, as invaders are those coming from the outside, who have another culture and another religion. So, for instance, “invaders” were considered the American troops in 2003, not the men of IS in 2014!
We have to stress also that since 2003, according to Sunni Mosul inhabitants, they lost their own security and serenity, corruption spread everywhere, and living in Mosul became something “not ideal anymore”. Even if it might seem absurd to us, they felt first dominated by an foreign occupant and then almost “hostages of the Shiite government of Baghdad”, which did not allow them even the free movement within the city, as inside it a series of checkpoints was established. Moreover, Mosul, as a large part of Iraq, became prey of anarchy and crushed by corruption, while brutal jihadist factions, more or less close to Al Qaeda, started committing attacks at a ceaseless rhythm.
So after the 2003 so-called “US led invasion” the cosmopolite Mosul started changing in depth, and the different components of the town did not live together smoothly anymore, and the Islamic radicalism gained rapidly a foothold, while profound ethnic and partisan hatreds grew, and there was a power vacuum, which sooner or later someone would have tried to fill. And the men of IS filled the vacuum, but they were not perceived as invaders: first, they were considered as terrorists, and then as men of a brutal regime that that imposed the Islamic Law, applying Shari’ah in an extremely rigid way.
However, even if it might seem incredible, also in the light of what happened later, caused by the men of the Islamic State, and of the destructions due to the bombings, in the initial days Mosul appeared to the eyes of her inhabitants as “the safest and best livable place in the whole world”. Yes, you read well: many have explained to me that during these weeks they felt Mosul being “the safest and best livable place in the whole world”! After more than a decade, the town, as they told me, was “clean”, without those “accumulations of garbage” not collected, which could be found after the US “occupation” and which piled up again after the fall of the Caliphate. After years, the roads with potholes, or in any case in dismal conditions, were repaired in a professional way.
There was also another great novelty about freedom of movement: with the Caliphate, the Iraqi-Syrian border, existing since the end of World War One, and always felt as a Western imposition, had been de facto abolished: for Mosul inhabitants, it was the end of the hated “Sykes-Picot system”, it became possible to go to and from another province of the so called Caliphate without problems, as Iraq and Syria did not exist anymore, but only the Caliphate existed, as we will see when we will speak about identity cards and public transportation.
As for city life, there was a short crisis between the end of June and the beginning of July, before IS were able to provide autonomously light, gas and fuel to the town, as these commodities had been before controlled centrally by Baghdad government.
Starting from mid-July, notwithstanding the start of anti-IS bombings, it was recorded a quick decrease of prices of any type of good, thanks to the “removal of taxes on goods” and of “any form of governmental corruption”. Meanwhile, some shopping avenues started being open and crowded until midnight, with Mosul people going out without fear.
IS men worked ceaselessly for weeks to provide all citizens with potable water and electric power for 24 hours a day, something which in some zones of the city and in some suburbs just outside the town was since years only a dream: I spoke with families accustomed to have electricity only for few hours, and being unable to connect simultaneously more than one appliance at a time. For these Mosul inhabitants, life under the Islamic State meant being able to use air conditioning and being able to store food in the refrigerators.
As for the public employees, after some weeks of uncertainty (during which even the pay did not come) they were requested to go back to work, and they decided to go back to work, both because they were afraid, and because they needed to take their salary.
Among the first significant and visible negative changes in a city which seemed, under some aspects, blooming again, little by little, there were those related to female dressing, to the prohibition of acquiring and consuming some goods, and to the prohibition of practicing some works or teaching some disciplines, while the five daily prayers became mandatory, to the extent that all citizens had to interrupt what they were doing, and also it became mandatory for all to go to the Mosque every Friday.
These were, though – it is worth repeating – changes imposed gradually, while the rules were proclaimed immediately, but for weeks not fully implemented.
From the very outset, women had to wear the hijab, the Islamic veil, which complies at least with the minimal norms of veiling envisaged in the Koran, but nothing could lead to predict that IS men would have gone, in few months, to the extent of imposing the niqab, which covered totally women’s body, and allowing only a black colored dressing, with the face masked and the hands hidden with black gloves. The almost immediate consequence was the gradual forced closure of all shops and commercial enterprises connected with the care of the female aesthetics, from the shops of underwear to the hairdressers or beauticians, with some among them continuing to work from their homes, as we will see when we will speak about women. Already since the end of July the shops selling ladies’ clothes were warned that they could sell, in the short term, only dresses and accessories “controlled” by the “religious police”: the retailers received a warning that all material not sold during the following 5 days would have been withdrawn and replaced with other controlled and authorized, so to “comply with religious regulations”.
Starting from the first weeks, also alcoholic beverages were forbidden, and consequently all commercial activities connected to them were closed, while the smoking ban was more gradual and materialized only some months later, as a final step of a slow process which little by little initially restricted, and then banned, the places where smoke was allowed, and finally it was totally banned a habit widespread in Arab countries, with commercial activities devoted to the practice of smoking which were, inevitably, gradually shut.
Similarly, also disciplines taught at schools and university were affected: while all scientific disciplines (including physics, chemistry, biology, medicine and pharmacy) were strongly promoted, on the contrary those even partially not accepted by the Muslim religion were forbidden and classified as haram (prohibited). As a consequence, schools and universities dealing with arts or with banking interests (forbidden by Islamic economy) were closed, while in geography it was not allowed any more to mention nor draw on maps the Middle East Arab Countries, as they were born from divisions “decided by Western countries as Great Britain and France”. The refusal of borders then delineated is, as it is known, an old warhorse of Arab nationalism since the times of Qutb and Nasser, with the difference that Al Qaeda, and especially the Islamic State, have added the global jihad.
As for the “allowed” disciplines, all have reported to me about a significant effort made by IS men to increase the scientific level and to reach peaks of excellence in instruction. An instruction, whose weak points were determined, as the testimonies collected say, by the fact that punishments were always present, and education through “pardon” and “understanding” was absent. These rules were applied very strictly also to smallest children, thus determining a learning which stemmed from a series of obligations did not favor that desire for knowledge which should be at the basis of teaching.
All in all, the impression that the Sunni inhabitants of Mosul had, during the initial weeks, was that of a “more beautiful and efficient city, in which corruption, crimes and terrorist attacks had disappeared, while all services were provided for free”, even if the first heavy “restrictions” were emerging, especially for the non-Sunni, and the blind brutality of the group started to frighten someone.
- Mosul administration under the so-called Caliphate
The situation told by the courageous inhabitants of Mosul, who at the risk of their lives during almost two years told me daily what happened in Mosul in the long years the town lived under the control of Al Baghdadi men, is therefore profoundly different from the picture we in the West obtained from the videos shown by our TV news, who were essentially concentrated on that part of anti-Western propaganda we defined as “psychological warfare”. However, we cannot avoid highlighting as the reality was profoundly different also from what shown in the videos in which IS attempted instead to show the Caliphate lands as a “Paradise on Earth”, to attract as many youngsters as possible, to build up the “Caliphate”.
Even if the impression received by Mosul inhabitants after the initial weeks was absolutely “positive”, it has to be highlighted that very soon things started to change: the “situation worsened little by little, due to a gradual tightening of rules, accompanied by an exacerbation of sanctions”, while the efficiency of services provided was conditioned by the harsh reality of the war, when the international coalition, formed to counter the so-called Caliphate, started to bomb it and to attack it of several fronts, the economic front included.
However, very often, for several aspects, in the West we have a totally distorted vision of what happened between 2014 and 2017, but also of what happened between 2003 and 2014. Always, indeed, the testimony that I collected for the various aspects of the daily life of the inhabitants of Mosul under the rule of the men of Al Baghdadi, always had a long premise: they started from how the situation had changed after 2003, and consequently also the perception of reality under the control of IS was influenced by what the inhabitants of Mosul had suffered after what they call “American invasion”.
We have also to stress the fact that the testimonies came from Sunni inhabitant as, as we will see, Shiites escaped or were killed, Yazidi were killed or became slaves, and there were no Jews and almost all Christians decided to leave. Christians, indeed, decided to leave or to convert, although the all non-Muslims who worship monotheist religions based on the Torah and come from Abraham (i.e. Christians and Jews, the so-called “People of the Book”) could become “dhimmi” and consequently have some rights.
However, as the British journalist John Cantlie, a prisoner of IS since 2012 (and now presumed dead), showed in a video on the life in Mosul broadcasted by IS on January 2015, the men in black worked to make Mosul a normal, efficient and happy city, but de facto, from his words it is possible to understand that this “normality” is focused only on Sunni Muslims. During the video, Cantlie underlined how, eventually, after years of oppressing rules under Saddam regime, and the chaos following the American invasion, the Sunni Muslims could stroll through the streets of Mosul without fear.
Before examining what in the West is called Public and City’s Administration, it is interesting review briefly some aspects of the daily life of Mosul inhabitants, starting from the fact that the first visible change in everybody’s life occurred due to the new rules set forth for shops and commercial activities, as all those dealing, more or less directly, with “forbidden items” (haram) were closed.
Since the very first days IS closed all commercial activities connected, for instance, to alcoholics, from bars to pubs to the wine shops, and later, gradually, those connected with smoking, from tobacco sales to locals where water pipe is smoked. Alcohol and tobacco were prohibited, as “God would not allow consumption of items harmful to human health”, and soon to be surprised drinking or smoking became a behavior sanctioned with lashes. In this domain, as well as in other sectors of public life, the imposition of the rules was, however, in part gradual. During some months, for instance, smoke was not totally banned, also because it would have been difficult and unpopular in a context in which everybody was accustomed since ever to smoke anywhere
Also, all activities connected with sale or making of music, musical instruments and electric appliances reproducing music were closed, as well as those activities connected to any figurative art, as paintings or sculptures, which inevitably could not even be possessed at home.
Similar sort hit all those commercial activities connected to the “care of female’s body”, from hairdressers to esthetic centers, from the manicure shops to those selling underwear. Naturally, the fact that no hairdresser shops nor dummies dressed with underwear was seen does not imply that in Mosul (as well as in other cities of the Caliphate), women did not any more cut or dye their hair nor that they were unable to buy underwear, but this did not take place openly. As for as, for instance, female clothing and the accessories and products connected to women beauty, these items could be sold only in the back of the shops, and after a careful control by IS, who distributed directly to shops the items “compliant with the rules”. It might seem strange, but I was explained that women going to buy these “female goods” could try them only at home, with the difficulty that it was not allowed to tell the shopkeeper even the size, so that any purchase became an endeavor. Nevertheless, there were numerous hairdressers and beauticians who continued to work from home, by transforming one room in a “studio”, which became at the same time a beauty parlor and a center for free expression of thought. In this domain, as well as in other sectors of public life, the imposition of the rules was, however, in part gradual.
During some months, smoke was not totally banned, also because it would have been difficult and unpopular in a context in which everybody was accustomed since ever to smoke anywhere, from schools to hospitals, without any limitation nor restriction: smoke is something which is included, in a sense, into the tradition of the Arab world and IS, consequently, showed an unusual patience in implementing the smoking ban.
Always on the subject of commercial activities, it is interesting to note how IS men, probably also with the aim of being able to control that all happened within the imposed rules, and to avoid any evasion to their taxation system, worked very hard to concentrate the numerous markets/shopping malls spread around the city into newly constructed buildings, devoted to this scope. These works, which guaranteed a net improvement of the city’s image and of the level of hygiene, were certainly to be seen as a demonstration of how the administration of the Caliphate were much more efficient, as compared to the government of Baghdad, but had also the advantage of providing a constant income in the state treasury, whereby I was told that, naturally, shopkeepers had to pay to the Caliphate a sort of rent/tax to use these places.
It should be kept in mind that, as we will see later, IS put into practice a centralization of every economic activity, so that it was able to control everything and to earn from everything.
Among the most significant aspects of daily life which suffered radical changes there was one connected to music, to the performances and to the free access to information, with a censorship which was moved by a will to “veto things which were prohibited in the Shariah” and to control everything and all, so that it ended up by silencing any form of expression and communication.
First of all, music was prohibited, also at home or in the car, simply because so the Prophet had spoken, they said. The only musical instruments accepted were the traditional “daf” and some other types of drums, as the drum was since ever a classic military instrument, while all woodwinds and strings were considered to be haram (prohibited). It was therefore prohibited to play or to listen to any type of musical instrument or music, thus allowing only religious or military songs performed “a cappella”, without instruments.
As for the cinemas, the Islamic State decreed the definitive closure of the very few cinemas in activity, without provoking in town particularly hard feelings, as all persons with whom I spoke defined “pornography” the Western films shown until IS arrival. Indeed, I learned with surprise that all movie theaters had been shut after the First Gulf War of 1991, due to the embargo (so I was told), and only few were re-opened after the so-called US invasion of 2003; but they continued not to be frequented very much, due to the programming considered by many inhabitants of Mosul too vulgar, due to the scenes of sex included in Western films.
Instead, some theaters continued to work, also in the period of the so-called Caliphate, with publicity posters in some streets of the city announcing the shows, but IS imposed the presence of only male actors and a rigid system of selection and control of programs, in order to insure “decency”.
Naturally, all which was against the rigid morality of IS men, and was for instance considered “pornographic”, was censored in the television and also in internet. The latter has suffered since the outset strong forms of control and censorship, until the moment when private internet connections were forbidden both at home and in public spaces, and to navigate in the net was allowed only in some ad hoc “internet café” called “Internet Halls”, in which IS provided the connection, thus controlling all internet traffic.
Soon the systemic destruction of all satellite dishes started, but was incomplete, thanks to the fact that, from a certain moment on, the main task of IS became to oppose the coalition fighting it, and to take care of repairing damages and reconstruct after the bombings.
A brief mention, eventually, to the cellular phones. They became soon not only forbidden, but also unusable, due to the destruction of the repeaters carried on mostly by the coalition’s bombings, but also to the ban of internet use imposed by the Caliphate. More generally, IS men associated the use of cellphones to the possibility of providing information to the enemy and probably due to this reason the use of cellphones was banned, and the transgressors were arrested and sentenced for espionage.
However, all in all, at least during the first year, before the coalition strikes destroyed almost everything, daily life for Sunni inhabitants of Mosul did not change in such a radical way as it was thought in the West, even if there were several changes, some minor, some greater.
Two were the foremost aspects which characterized and influenced all others, one positive and one negative: the end of corruption and inefficiency on one side and the severity of judiciary rulings on the other.
The combination of these two elements brought on one side quiet and cleanliness, on the other a morale too rigid, which by applying in an extreme way some interpretations of the Shariah stifled many aspects of daily life, which was articulated by the rigid compliance of an enormous number of rules, and implied always the risk of suffering punishments (also corporal) most severe, as we will see in Part II of this report, that will be published in May 2020.
If on one side, therefore, many told me that, by complying with all rules they were able to continue carrying on their own life, albeit with many limitations, others told me about a constant state of fear, as even a simple suspicion could mean detention and torture, and often death.
Libraries and bookshops continued to be open and freely accessible both for men and for women, but several books “not in line with the principles of the IS regime or the Islamic religion, especially when they speak of democracy and communist systems” were destroyed, suffering the same fate of cigarettes, spirits and satellite dishes: they were burned by the religious police.
As for bars, restaurants and other leisure and meeting spaces, they did not suffer particular modifications, except the places where people drank and smoked. Therefore, as we saw, pubs and bars were immediately closed, while coffee shops and restaurants remained open, albeit when they complied with Islamic dietary rules (for instance, they could not sell any spirits nor products deriving from pigs) and with clothing rules for women, who should eat without displaying in any way their face.
Among the several curiosities told to me, it is interesting, for instance, to highlight as the practice of any sport was allowed (at least to men), but with significant limitations in the clothing to be worn, as it was impossible to display some parts of the body, as legs or knees, which should never be uncovered. For instance, when playing football men wore relatively short trousers with very long socks, so that the trousers were long enough to cover the knees and the socks were able to perform the same function. Similarly, in a swimming pool it was compulsory to wear a shirt (normally the undershirt usually used as underwear) with trousers for natation, which covered at least three quarters of the leg. Sport, instead, was de facto precluded to women, as it was impossible for them to practice any sport without showing a single centimeter of skin.
Let’s start looking at how IS organized other sectors of city life.
As far as the university is concerned, in spite of what could be thought, not only no university was shut down, but after an understandable period of “re-organization” of the study plans and programs, to adjust them to the new religious regime, some Departments received more funds and became central, while others were inevitably hit by restrictions and bans: it was not the study per se to be forbidden, all depended upon the disciplines taught, which, as anything, were divided in a dichotomous way between those which were licit and those which were forbidden.
All faculties based on teachings considered against the Shariah were closed, as philosophy, art or policy studies, while some disciplines were banned, as those economic-financial based on banking interests and on all economic-banking systems not allowed by the most radical Islam. Finally, for other disciplines the programs suffered changes in depth, to the extent of being profoundly distorted, as Geography and History, for instance. As for as the scientific disciplines, instead, the work of IS was focused since the beginning toward a clear build up. This happened probably for two reasons, on one side the Caliphate men needed persons prepared to demonstrate the efficiency of the new deal, on the other the “sanctions” imposed by all states and the material and economic “encirclement” forced the Caliphate to develop capabilities which could bring it toward a regime as much as possible autarchic, independent from foreign import, as well as in the domain of know-how, expertise and professions external to the men and women who decided to live inside the Caliphate to build up this new “Country”. As for the right of girls to study and the teaching by female professors, as we will see, unlike what the Taliban did, the men of the Islamic State did not ban women from going neither to school nor to the university, both as students and as teachers, but some gradual restrictions were introduced. Initially there were growing limitations related to the attire, then women were forbidden from being alone in a room with a man (think at audits between a professor and a student), thus obliging at least to keep the door open, then the women were compelled to be always accompanied by a male family member, and finally separate classes were introduced, with those for females which were separate from those for the males. For some faculties the division was made before, by dividing a department, as well as for students and teaching corps. For those faculties where this was impossible (usually the scientific ones) only the students were divided, and the professors found themselves compelled to repeat twice the same lesson. And some teachers complained very much with me about that, as the work doubled, while the pay was not increased.
As far as the reorganization of the school system, IS operated, first of all, a most significant cut in the duration of the course of studies, in order to concentrate studies in less years, to let youngsters concluding in advance and having their majority starting work at 15 years of age, thus forcing them de facto to study less, and allowing to go to college a lower number of them, selected on the basis of their ability. So, while the Iraqi schooling system foresaw (and foresees) a primary school of 6 years and a secondary school of 6 more, divided in three years of middle school and 3 of preparatory school for the college, with three general examinations at the end of each cycle, IS decided to concentrate the courses, thus shortening them by three years. In other words, the primary school changed from 6 to 5 years, and each among the other cycles from 3 to 2. At the end of each cycle an examination was established, while the first day at school was always fixed at September 1.
As for the courses, some of them were eliminated (as those on “nationality”), while others suffered cuts and changes (as, for instance, History and Geography). However, the situation became most difficult both for the teachers and, mostly, for the students, who found themselves to have the same courses and more or less the same programs, albeit developing in shorter durations.
The IS schooling policy was aimed at favoring only the most capable students, who were allowed access to college with great advance, while all others “not gifted and unqualified” should devote themselves to work, mostly independent, starting to “learn a work” already at 15 years of age. The most gifted, instead, should go, according to IS philosophy, to college with a great “timely advantage” as compared to what usually happens, to work later in the public sector, or, in any case, serve the community in the different sectors of public services. Inevitably, an anticipated insertion in the working environment implied also an equal anticipated enlisting, thus providing the Caliphate with a greater number of combatants.
One more consideration on the school re-organization: the addition of some elements related to the jihad immediately before proceeding to the printing of programs and books; gradually also courses centered on IS were inserted. Finally, among the most significant aspects, there was the total lack of interest for the needs of children and youngsters, who were forced to withstand heavy study burdens and had as offset only exemplary punishments in case of their “fall”, both in terms of insufficient proficiency and in case of bad disciplinary behavior.
We can stress that the education system provided the Islamic State with a notable opportunity to indoctrinate children, since the outset and to operate a “brainwashing” not at all gradual, by passing them devious messages also in disciplines which apparently had nothing to do with politics or religion. Indeed, besides the explicit actions of indoctrination, as the insertion of disciplines focused on the Islamic State, on the Caliphate, on a distorted interpretation of Islam, in the importance of the jihad against the enemies and of the gallantry of the warriors, almost all school books ended up including a growing number of devious messages. An example could be the books of mathematics, with arithmetic exercises which, since the very first examples for children of the first year saw “brutal” subjects, as war weapons or bombs, together with the very normal images we propose to kids in order to exercise their minds: in the books of the Caliphate it happened therefore to sum bombs or machine guns, not only fruits and teddy bears! Inevitably, these messages were even more devious, if we consider that they were disseminated here and there, together with normal exercises and phrases for kids.
The propaganda messages which IS inserted anywhere, even in the school-books, coupled with the atrocities which children had to witness for years, sometimes even by actively participating, are factors which lead to consider that a generation is lost.
If, by speaking about schoolbooks for children it has been highlighted how many were the messages of propaganda inside them, it is worth noting how much people speak since years on the complex online propaganda machine of IS, and little about what was well visible in the streets of the city.
Together with the online propaganda, so powerful that several experts have spoken of “Caliphate 2.0” (which might be able to survive the loss of territorial control by the Caliphate), and to the radio and TV channels which broadcasted in the cities under the control of the Caliphate, IS had developed also an equally powerful and widespread “offline propaganda”. It materialized mostly in ad hoc “propaganda kiosks” in which booklets, leaflets, newspapers, CDs and informational DVDs were distributed.
Usually called “Media Points”, through them much propaganda material was disseminated, but these kiosks were also the place where people (always men, of course) were “compelled” to watch the videos produced by IS, including those about capital executions of presumed “spies”. In the largest shops, also, maxi screens or big led-TV displayed propaganda videos, both those related to what we have defined as “Psychologic Warfare” against the West, and those containing a specific “narrative”. Therefore, the show included in sequence, almost without distinction, the grisliest videos with the ill-famed capital executions, and those depicting the idyllic world inside the Caliphate.
As far as the healthcare system is concerned, according to all the citizens of Mosul with whom I spoke, during the IS period it was better than it was before and how it came back to be later, in the afterwards of the IS fall. The main features reported by all those who spoke to me were, to use their own words, that “all was clean and sterilized” there were “many doctors, nurses and medicines, also from famous Western firms” and all were “professional and kind”.
While this is what they mostly appreciated, as the most important thing is a healthcare system working at the top level, the aspect which initially surprised Mosul inhabitants who went to a hospital or to a pharmacy was instead especially another: “all was free of charge for everybody”. In case of emergency, “the ambulances were free of charge and efficient” and the same applied to the admittance to the Emergency Room, and to the treatment provided by doctors and nurses. When they were checked-out, especially during the first period, Mosul citizens asked how and where they could pay, but received, as an answer, the information that all was free of charge. Also the medicines of the pharmacies were free for all, also for those who explained they had the money, being incredulous of the fact that any prescription required and regardless of their social class, the drugs were received without having to pay.
Speaking of the healthcare personnel, it was explained to me that there were both men and women, without any distinction. As for the nationality of doctors and nurses, inevitably the majority of personnel was from Iraq, as almost all doctors of the pre-IS period stayed, some for their sense of duty or because they had been forced, others with great enthusiasm as they could serve the community without social nor economic distinctions in a context of maximal hygiene and efficiency, but there were also foreign doctors, all coming among those we in the West mistakenly call, without differentiating, “foreign fighters”.
If the public healthcare system underwent a radical change under Al Baghdadi Caliphate, no private clinics were closed, and they continued to provide through payment their services to all those who preferred them. Normally, though, the clinics themselves recommended to go to in the hospitals managed by IS for the most expensive treatments or to have drugs prescribed, so that they could get them for free in the pharmacies.
It should be said, anyhow, that after years of bombings the situation little by little deteriorated increasingly. Moreover, due to the scarcity of medicines, efficient equipment and medical personnel, the priority, during the last phases of the Caliphate was reserved to IS men (military and officials of the civilian structure).
As for the judiciary system, several citizens of Mosul, before entering in the details of its functioning, were careful to highlight that also in this domain the arrival of the Islamic State represented for them a positive return to the past, as far as the possibility to “have justice” was concerned, even if on the basis of totally different rules from those in force during Saddam Hussein period. Indeed, the possibility – granted by the Saddam regime to a citizen – to file a petition to the President in case of complaint against an injustice suffered by the system, had the effect of having judges who were fair and impartial in the application of the law. After the US invasion of 2003, instead, the social and economic standing started playing an important role in a judiciary system undermined by corruption, which quickly became the characterizing element. As all said, for years the lawsuits were won by those who had more money to bribe the judges, or a greater social sway, such to influence the verdicts.
Shifting to the functioning of the judiciary system in Mosul during the period of the Caliphate, beyond the end of corruption, which also for the judiciary sector is the most highlighted aspect by all those with whom I spoke, it is worth underlining another most important thing: it should be distinguished between what has been defined as the “judiciary-political of IS” and the “judiciary system of IS for people who lived under its control”. These are two aspects totally different for us, but they were for Mosul citizens two sides of the same coin, as the basis of both is the concept of “Justice”, naturally not in the sense of “Judiciary Power”, but as “Administration of Justice”. If the first, called by them “judiciary-political system of IS”, according to Mosul inhabitants with whom I spoke was a “terrorist system which allowed the kidnapping of foreigners and the prosecution of entire populations/ethnicities”, the other, the “judiciary system of IS for persons living under its control”, has had the merit of modifying in positive, in a very short while, the internal situation of Mosul and of her inhabitants. For instance, the “IS men succeeded to eliminate the perpetration of numerous crimes particularly widespread since years, including pillages, kidnappings and homicides”. Although in the penal sector the punishments might seem harsh, everybody accepted them.
The simultaneous end of corruption and of the influence which the social standing and wealth had over the outcome of a sentence, as well as the literal application of the “Law of God, written in the Holy Book of Koran” both in the recognition of the crimes and of the punishments, caused the collapse of the number of crimes committed and made the town more secure. The whole domain was based on the application of the Sharia, considered by all the Just Law by definition, and as forms of corruption did not exist anymore, all felt they could appeal to the judge to claim the rights attributed to them by the Law. The trial was held at what was called “Sharia Courts” and the law applied was the Law of God, Allah: this Law was centuries old and felt as true and just by Mosul inhabitants. It is a law, as I was told, which is therefore “immutable” and also for that certain and just, unlike what happens in the West, where, according to them, every single government changes the norms to his advantage any time it wants, and any single judge applies it with enormous discretion, which does not exists when speaking of Sharia.
Speaking now about the re-organization of the Police and, more generally of the Law Enforcement Agencies, I was told that this is the sector where fewer changes occurred, and mostly this is one among the less interesting aspects to be analyzed, as during the period in which IS held the control of Mosul “the Police functioned like all Polices in the world”.
As for uniforms, which apparently did not have neither collar patches nor visible ranks, were “similar to the Afghan civilian uniform” albeit being black, and with a round crest having the inscription “Islamic Police – Nineveh Province” on the arm. Behind this expression “similar to the Afghan civilian uniform”, which appeared to me decidedly curious, the first time it was reported to me, there hides a clothing which in fact has little to do with the classic uniforms of the Western tradition: the uniforms of IS Police were defined as Afghans because they were made up of a trouser with a long tunic over it, as it can be seen in the numerous videos broadcasted by IS, including the one already mentioned several times, with Cantlie making the tour of the city.
Similarly to what happens in many confessional Islamic states, a new Police Corps was established, a sort of religious police, called by IS Hisbah, which wore a characteristic uniform having in the front and on the back the word Hisbah (حسبة in Arabic, which means “verification”). Also in this case, the uniforms apparently did not have visible ranks, but the round crest of the Islamic Police; also these “resembled the civilian uniform of Afghanistan”, albeit having a military color (khakis), and had over them a brown waistcoat with the script Hisbah in front and behind, thus distinguishing this Corps from all other Law Enforcement Agencies.
As elsewhere, the task of this Police was to enforce respect of all the religious prescriptions and moral rules decreed by the Islamic State. It was therefore, de facto, a Police Corps which “annoyed” people also on the streets, by pointing out, with modalities which became with time increasingly rash, that a specific behavior did not comply with the Shariah. It is noteworthy that in the Hisbah there was also a “female section”, composed by women, whose task was to control ladies in order to find out possible violations of the most rigid rules on clothing and other behaviors.
There was also another type of Police, similar to the religious one (and probably part of it) called Dewan al Hisbah, which worked under the Bureau for the Zakat (called Dewan, which means bureau), whose tasks were connected to the collection both of the zakat, the charity which Muslims have to pay every year for the poor, with the percentage of 2.5% of their own patrimony, and of Jizya, the tax all non-Muslim residents must pay, according to the Islamic Law.
There were, finally, a sort of Road Police and, naturally the Military Police. The former wore the same uniform of the ordinary Police, albeit with a different color, grey tending to light blue, and performed the same service as in any town of the world: regulate traffic and collect fines. As for the Military Police, it had competence over military personnel, and therefore was seldom seen in town.
All Police types present in Mosul, be there civilian, religious and Road Police, were apparently composed by Iraqi personnel, unlike what happened under the Caliphate for the Army, where there was a significant number of foreigners.
The Army, also distinguished by a uniform clearly identifiable on the basis of color, was not present around the city, as the barracks were all positioned outside, near the river. The barracks, clearly identifiable also for that reason, were among the first objectives hit by the bombings of the anti-IS coalition.
I was unable to know much more about the Armed Forces, or to say better the Army, as IS did not have in the Caliphate neither naval nor air forces. It is difficult to have information as almost all military are dead and those who survived cannot acknowledge having served in the Army. Among the few things I was told, it is worth especially mentioning the fact that many were scared mostly to see their sons dispatched to the front, thus risking death: the most surprising aspect is that they did not attribute this risk to the fact that IS was at war, but that, without corruption they could not bribe anyone to avoid enlistment.
Extremely scarce are information on those we would call “Intelligence Services” or “Information Services”, which had an internal and an external branch, whereby, about the former, Mosul inhabitants explained to me only how much they feared these men, without uniform and having ample powers, also feared by the Police and by the Army; while for the external branch, active overseas for the perpetration of attacks, I did not find any information by Mohamed and his friends. We can only add, also on the basis of documents which I was able to look at, that this differentiation between the external and the internal branch is confirmed, and the men serving there were known with the name of “amniyyin” (in Arabic أمنين, which word for word means secure, thus security men).
As we saw above, while among the Police Forces present in Mosul no foreigners were seen, (except some in the Religious Police), their presence was high in the Army barracks, just outside the city, near the river.
However, many foreigners could be seen in town. They were often seen also in some shopping streets, to relax when returning from the war front. To respond to the requirements of the foreigners, also the kind of products on sale changed, with IS men providing shops also with merchandises until then almost unknown in Mosul. In the market, in particular, it was possible to note Europeans and Caucasians acquiring “special food”, typical of their respective cultures and “different”, as compared to those common in Iraq. However, the foreigners did not distinguish themselves only for their culinary habits, which were never adopted by Mosul inhabitants, but also for behaviors seemingly surprising for a Middle Eastern culture: it was possible to see, for instance, “husband and wife together on a motorbike”. But more generally, the behaviors of couples in public were considered “strange” for their culture: also going together embraced to the city’s entertainment park was unusual for the eyes of Mosul inhabitants. Excluding the commercial activities, normally IS foreigners had in any case no relations with people of Mosul, who did not look at them with suspicion, albeit with indifference, and showed no interest to have with them any form of interaction. In general, in any case, when downtown the foreigners were sufficiently polite and strived to speak Arabic more than English, as Arabic is the language of Koran. Considering that not all foreigners who did not speak Arabic understood English (think at those coming from Caucasus countries) the local IS media “broadcasted the news in many languages, as Arabic, English, French, Russian and Turkish”.
Changing topic, IS, as any entity claiming the right of being a “Sovereign State”, printed for its citizens ID cards and driving licenses. The Caliphate changed also all car tags with its own.
As for the documents, it is worth highlighting that they had the logo and the caption Islamic State, as well as reference to the Province of Nineveh (نينوى ولاية, Wilayat Ninawa), while they did not include any reference neither on the residence nor on the birth place to the countries created after the agreements between Western Powers at the end of World War One: the only reference was to the historic Provinces of the Area. It has to be also noted that there was not a complete uniformity between different Provinces; there are, therefore, several differences between ID cards and driving licenses released in the Province of Nineveh and those of other provinces.
It is also interesting to note that some driving licenses allowed movements within the whole Caliphate, while others had limitations, thus allowing people to drive only within the Province of Nineveh.
As for passports, instead, IS has only formally stated to have issued them: in reality this did not happen, as they would not have been acknowledged by any country. The images circulating in internet belong therefore to the category of fake news, probably a product of the propaganda of the Islamic State. This does not mean that it were not possible for the inhabitants of the Caliphate to legally enter or leave the territory under IS control, even if, as the months passed, the initial total freedom of movement suffered increasingly stringent limitations, and became conditioned by the possession of a number of documents, which had to be all valid, lest very serious consequences were risked. In particular, at any control between different provinces, and also along the Caliphate external borders, it was compulsory to show, among others, the personal ID card, documents certifying the payment done of the zakat, as well as a specific authorization, so to make impossible to many categories of persons to leave the territory under IS control and for some even the Province of Nineveh.
Apart from the numerous travels overseas made by IS external security men (author of several attacks in Europe), it is logic that the IS administration could not veto movements overseas, not only for the need to “form” a new “population” and the choice to respond to Western attacks by hitting Westerns “at their home”, but also for the duty to place IS subjects in condition to comply with one among the most important precepts of the Koran: the voyage to Mecca. The Hajj is in fact the fifth among the “Pillars of Islam” and prescribes to all having the physical and economic possibilities to make it at least once in life: IS could not impede its citizens to make it!
It might seem absurd, but, as it was told me, there was much more freedom of movement, always only for the Sunni inhabitants of Mosul, during the times of the IS Caliphate, as compared to what was possible before or later; to say better, a large part among them had the perception of being free to move, even if under the control of rigid rules. This was due to a reason we tend not to think about: it should be considered that a large part of Syria was not anymore “overseas”.
The Caliphate had de facto eliminated the border between Syria and Iraq, established by the Western Powers at the end of World War One. That “line on the sand” traced in 1916 by Sykes and Picot in order to divide between Great Britain and France the lands which had been promised to Hussein, since then felt as a Western imposition, was not existing any more! Also, neither Iraq nor Syria existed anymore, but only the Caliphate! And to go easily to Raqqa without having to cross a state border imposed by the West seemed for many among the inhabitants of Mosul to have more freedom of movement in the lands of Ummah.
This feeling ended with the fall of the Caliphate, both for the reinstatement of the Syrian-Iraqi border and for a number of “administrative difficulties”.
As for the transportation system, I was told that, after the US invasion, transport by rail was interrupted and, as of today, has not been resumed. Similarly, 2003 represented for the city also the end of connection by air, as the airport was transformed in a US military base, and was never more reopened to civilian traffic, except for short periods. With IS there were not great changes in the inter-city connection means, also because the bombings by the coalition made, almost from the beginning, almost unthinkable to build airports or new railway lines, even if they were for sure among IS objectives, as sometimes mentioned also in the publications aiming to attract youngsters in the lands of the Caliphate. The only relevant change in the transport between cities was therefore represented by the elimination of the border between Syria and Iraq, allowing citizens to freely move in all IS provinces.
Significant novelties were instead introduced to the transports within the city. Beyond the return to a free and secure private circulation, which benefitted from the removal of the roadblocks which, since 2003, had accompanied the daily life of inhabitants, the transportation system during the period of the Caliphate saw the introduction of several types of busses and taxis. The busses belonged essentially to two types: those with a capability to transport 24 passengers and the so-called microbus with only 11 seats. The ticket to be paid, were decidedly lower than before. There were several types of taxis, having different tariffs and also devoted to different itineraries.
Reverting to busses, I was told that, shortly after the advent of IS men, tens of new busses with 24 seats, made in Japan (Toyota and Nissan) arrived in the city, and were devoted to the transport free of charge to and from the villages in the area of Nineveh (within 100 km). The smaller busses were devoted instead to the streets of the city center, and “departed at fixed times without waiting to be full”. When I asked some explanation, they highlighted that it was a great novelty, which made easier any transfer within the town: with some surprise I learned in fact that both before and after the fall of IS the busses in Mosul leave only when they are full, and therefore passengers are often compelled to wait for long, and there are no way to convince the driver to depart, if there are still some places empty.
Closely connected to the transportation system, especially for connections between cities, is naturally the mail service, which cannot be efficient when transports are not so. Also for this aspect of daily life we must make a step back to 2003: “after the US invasion, the mail service did not work anymore”, both for the lack of railway and air transportation connecting Mosul to the rest of the country, and for the rampant corruption which barred persons from using it, as it was unreliable. Therefore, during more than ten years the citizens of Mosul who wanted to receive or to mail a parcel or a letter used to pay Arab Sunni taxi drivers. Also for the mail service, things changed with the arrival of IS men, who thanks to the zeroing of any form of corruption and to the huge efforts displayed to reactivate the public transport service by road and, more generally, to provide efficient services, were able to reactivate the mailing service, which started again to work properly.
Another interesting aspect, which normally characterized a state, is the capability to have its own device, to issue its own money and, on this subject, the testimonies received from Mosul surprised me very much.
The first thing to be noted, and which confirms also images disseminates by the Caliphate itself, is that new money was coined, whose value was connected, through their weight, to the precious metal used: gold, silver or bronze. As for banknotes, instead, IS did not print what would become “pieces of paper not recognized by any country” thus being inevitably “deprived of any value”. Iraqi money continued therefore to be used together with dollars, for the most important transactions.
Always speaking about aspects connected to use of money, it is worth noting finally that checking accounts continued to be operational, and people could go to the bank to withdraw money from their account, with the exception of those inserted by IS in a “Black list”. Two curiosities: on the checks it was written “Islamic State”, in addition to the name of the bank, and, naturally, withdrawals could be made with the limitation of the payment of the so-called Zakat, the charity which any Muslim must pay every year for the poor.
The Zakat is the “charity toward the poor and the paupers” which any Muslim must pay at a ratio of 2.5% of his own patrimony (and up to 10% in the case of agricultural production) and is since ever one among the “five pillars of Islam”, together with saying the words for testimony of faith, to the five compulsory daily prayers while looking toward Mecca, to the daylight fasting during the month of Ramadan and to the pilgrimage to Mecca, which all being economically and physically able must do at least once in life. It must be said that what is a duty toward the poor, for the Islamic religion, became under the Islamic State a de facto taxation, whole incomes did not go totally to the poor, who, it is worth recalling, received also subsidies by IS, apart from services free of charge. The subsidies had to be requested by filling modules with the data of the whole family nucleus. Also for the Zakat a sort of document exists, which had to be always carried along when leaving the province, in order to allow IS men to control that the payment had been done.
The greatest part of incomes in the treasury of IS came, therefore, from the collection of the Zakat “donated” by the Muslims (especially in the agricultural sector), of the Jizya “payed” by the so-called dhimmi (followers of monotheist religions different from Islam – we will deal with in the next chapter), of the “rents” of commercial and living spaces, and from the provision of all services, having created an economic system absolutely centralized, which lived on the imposition of an articulated set of taxation. IS earned profits, for instance, from the provision of some services, as water or domestic telephone connections, as well as on garbage collection, for which each family payed less than 2 dollars, something many considered a small tip in exchange of an efficient service, while before, due to corruption and bad governance much had to be payed to have then uncollected garbage in the streets.
Incomes in the IS treasury came also from those we in the West would define donations by individuals, which came mostly through the hawala system, or through money transfer through a network of brokers operating in towns of different countries, based as it was on exchange instruments, but with the promise, guaranteed by honor, to provide the broker of the other city with the money received, excluding a small commission.
Finally, another aspect was relevant: as I was told, neither Treasury Bonds nor other forms of public financing were issued, something rather logic, in the light of the absence of interests in the Islamic financial system. It should be considered that IS enacted naturally those which are the fundamental principles of the so-called “Islamic finance”, which being deeply different from what is the so-called conventional finance, developed in the West and based on the principles of capitalism, does not find foundations in the laws of market nor on profit, and forbids the imposition of any interest rate. At the basis of such form of finance, born during last century by recalling the “original” finance, and whose aim is to re-establish social justice, there is what is prescribed by the Koran, and there are therefore ethic and religious principles.
Leaving aside the city’s reality and the perceptions of Mosul citizens, it is worth going a bit in depth to understand how the central power had been organized by IS. A significant example to this end is a video where the Islamic State itself, while speaking about the whole of the Caliphate and not only about Mosul, explained in July 2016 the structure of the Caliphate.
In the video a structure emerges which we, according to our parameters, would define almost “typical of a state”; this structure has at its top the Caliph, assisted by a sort of “Council of Ministers” (“The Delegated Commitee”) and by a “Religious Council” (“The Shura Council”). The Caliphate was then composed by 35 Provinces (Wilayat), 19 of them being between Iraq and the Levant (Sham) e 16 outside it.
In the video, whose duration is 14:05 minutes, there are films with explanations for each “Ministry” and “State Branch”. After few seconds devoted to that part of Al Baghdadi speech in which he announced the birth of the Caliphate, the voice behind the scenes explains how the Caliphate were returned to defend Islam and all faithful Muslims, to start then explaining the structure of the Caliphate which “upholds and spreads the religion, defends the homeland, fortifies the fronts, prepares the armies, implements the hudud, and enforces the people’s adherence to the to shar’iah rules”.
The first organism to be examined is the Religious Council, which supports the Caliph in his duties; immediately after there are the “Delegated Committee” and the Provinces, each among them led by a “Wali”, who represents the Caliph and reports directly to the “Delegated Commitee”.
In every Province there are the bureaus of the 14 “Dawawin” (Ministries, or to say better, literally “Departments”) instituted in the Caliphate to protect the citizens’ rights. The Dawawin work under the control of the “Delegated Commitee” and their main tasks are to “assume the maintenance of public interest” and to “protect the people’s religion and security”.
There were, finally, “Offices and Committees” responsible for specific matters and with specialized personnel, operating under the direct supervision of the “Delegated Committee”.
To be noted that the video, which shows images representing almost all competences of the different Ministries and Bureaus already mentioned, albeit with a prevalence of battle scenes and executions of spies, was accompanied by a narrative voice speaking always in English, even if there were Arab songs in the background (naturally battle songs a cappella, without musical instruments). It was produced and broadcasted for the West and for the Muslims residing there, while it seems not having been disseminated in any form in Mosul, where none among the inhabitants with whom I spoke told me to have seen it. Neither IS strived to publicize it in town in other forms. It was another demonstration of the fact that, in order to be accepted by Mosul inhabitants, IS should be efficient, and it should not tell how the various Ministries were structured: what counts for the population of the city is very different from what we could deem.
After having seen the efficiency of the so-called Caliphate, we have to analyze the other main aspect: the brutality! Indeed, to have dispelled false myths on what happened in Mosul in the years under IS administration does not absolutely mean that we can forget the other fundamental aspect, characterizing this sort of state identity: brutality. This aspect will be the topic of another report that we will be published next month but we can briefly anticipate some elements
First of all, also due to this aspect the city of Mosul was for a long period “efficient” and, in part, for some even “happy”. All functioned, and no form of corruption was any more present, as all feared the consequences, often materializing through violent corporal punishments. These were punishments of a brutality which we have difficulty in imagining, but which in fact is proper also to other Islamic regimes with whom we keep normal international relations, as many were keen to highlight.
The reasons for this brutality were manifold: on one side, IS wanted to scare the West and the coalition of anti-IS countries, by shocking their public opinions and compel them to avoid acting; on the other the aim was also to exploit the atrocities and the seemingly gratuitous violence to exalt the sick minds of the most violent among the young foreign fighters come to fight, teenagers who were authorized to perpetrate actions typical of a horror film; finally, violence was instrumental to order and to the respect of rules.
It should be considered also the fact that, as Cantlie himself said in his video in Mosul, all good, beautiful or efficient things done by the men of Caliphate, was meant for Sunnis only, and naturally to those complying with the rules. Mosul had been declared a Sunni town and the law to be enforced was the Shariah; consequently those who belonged to another religion or did not respect the rules had a difficult life and met with the most severe punishments.
The already mentioned “efficiency” and “happiness” were therefore related only to a part of the Sunni population, those who were observant, while who violated the Law was punished; similarly, other groups suffered for ethnic or religious reasons persecutions whose reach has not yet been well understood; on this, the testimonies of the civilian residents of Mosul with whom I spoke could not help me much, as naturally they were unable to become aware of mass graves, just outside the city, which are uncovered during these months.
As we will see in the report will be published in May, the various non-Sunni minorities suffered different destinies, on the basis of the religion they were worshipping, more than of their own ethnicity: due to the distorted interpretation of the Sunni extremism proper of IS, to be a Sunni Kurd was for instance less serious than being an Arab practicing another religion, as the Christian one, while to be a non-Sunni Muslim meant committing the gravest crime, often punished trough death. Therefore the Sunni Kurds were in the majority of cases left free to go to the neighboring Kurdish cities (in fact, almost all fled); while to the Christians, after some weeks, an ultimatum was imposed, which forced them to choose between converting themselves, leaving the city or to pay the Jizya and become dhimmi, in order to enjoy protection and the benefit of numerous rights. To non-Sunni Muslims and to other groups following religions which included in their doctrine practices and beliefs of several religions, Islam included, the choice was not even offered, as they were infidels for excellence, who “have refused” and are therefore “renegades” to be eliminated; this, for different rationales, was the fate of Shiites and Yazidi.
In 2017, the city has been “liberated”, as we say in the West, or, as its inhabitants say, the IS men have been defeated and expelled, but to achieve such a result, those who defined themselves as “liberators” have literally destroyed it. Especially in the old part, there is nothing left except a pile of rubbles, which have dragged with them thousands of lives, hundreds of thousands when considering those did not pass away but lost everything, including their own memories, as the life of an entire city has been swept away. Unfortunately, indiscriminate bombings and months of siege have caused the destruction of the city, from infrastructures to private housings, and consequently the death of thousands of unarmed citizens, innocent civilians who were victims of bombings independently from their political opinions.
After almost three years, the reconstruction proceeds very slowly, due to inertia, inefficiency and corruption, with an outcome easy to imagine and can lead to new resentments by the Sunni inhabitants of Mosul toward the Shiite government of Baghdad. These factors could favorite the rebirth of the Islamic State, which, as many prominent experts say, was born on its turn from the context deriving from the intervention of 2003, and now many among them agree on the fact that the way this war was waged could favor it again.
We should bring to the inhabitants of Mosul “hope”, lest they will seek it from those who pledge it to them, while IS will return to Iraq to act as an insurgent group and will become the flag bearer of Sunni revanchism. It is a feeling which since the year 2003 grows silently toward the West and of the Shiites, fueled by corruption and inefficiency, and widely exploited by the group of Al Baghdadi, which has been able to become, for the eyes of many, the new champion of the Sunni pan-Arabism.
 The opinions expressed in this article belong to the Author and are not necessarily corresponding to those of the Ministry where She works.
 For a complete analysis see: Quadarella Sanfelice di Monteforte Laura, Life in Mosul under the Islamic State: Efficiency and brutality of the Caliphate, Mursia Editore, Milan (also in Italian version Vivere a Mosul con l’Islamic State. Efficienza e brutalità del Califfato, Mursia, Milano, 2019)
 This was the term used by them.
 The well-known blogger, author of MOSUL EYE, whose real name, disclosed only some months after Mosul liberation, is Omar Mohammed, since June 2014, has started to keep on the net a sort of daily record of what happened in Mosul. You can find it on https://mosul-eye.org
 In this sense also there is a statement by the blogger MOSUL EYE who wrote, on July 2 “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 Shias, expulsion, killing in specific areas and displacement. They have declared that Shias are atheists and the city is a “Sunni city” only.” (https://mosul-eye.org/2014/07/02/mosul-eye-reponse-to-mr-foss-a-norwegian-journalist/ ).
 Probably, he never forgot the role played by Mosul inhabitants in the revolt of 1959.
 The shops, for instance, had to shut down during all the time of the prayer
 In the same sense, on July 2, also the blogger MOSUL EYE wrote “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.” (https://mosul-eye.org/2014/07/02/mosul-eye-reponse-to-mr-foss-a-norwegian-journalist/ ).
 An expression certainly used to indicate the treaties, usually known in the West as Sykes-Picot agreements, through which the European powers organized the area at the end of World War One.
 Among the numerous bibliography see, in this sense, at least: Fawaz A. Gerges, Making the ARAB WORLD. Nasser, Qutb, and the clash that shaped the Middle East, Princeton University Press, 2018, 145 e 393f.
 For a description of what happened, for the good or for the bad, in Mosul during the initial weeks, see Lefler Jenna, Life Under ISIS in Mosul, in Institute for the Study of War, July 28, 2014, in http://iswresearch.blogspot.com/2014/07/life-under-isis-in-mosul.html , who, already at the end of July reported an impartial picture of the situation, and described also the state of mind of the different ethnic and religious components of the city.
See also an interesting interview to a citizen of Mosul appeared in December 2015, most suited to understand the state of mind of the inhabitants, both when IS men entered in town, and one year and a half later, after unceasing bombings: “For Abdulkarim, the Mosul resident, the takeover of his hometown by Isis militants was at first a blessing. Under their rule, traffic across Mosul eased as blast walls were removed, security improved, and for a while, services such as electricity, water and street-cleaning were better than they had been when the Iraqi government was in control. / The 31-year-old government employee was happy to pay a small amount of his 835,000 dinar (£490) salary that came from Baghdad to Isis as tax, and even donated an extra 7,000 dinars to the caliphate voluntarily. The militants treated their new subjects with respect and greeted them when they passed each other in the street. / But as the city’s residents prepare for their second winter under Isis control, economic blockade from Baghdad and bombardment by the US-led coalition has made life grim. / In July, Baghdad stopped providing salaries to government employees living in areas under Isis control, including Abdulkarim, whose income vanished overnight. / The lack of cash means people cannot afford to buy anything but the most basic goods. Many shops have shut, and the price of fuel and gas has increased by four or five times.” (Hawramy Fazel – Shalaw Mohammed – Shaheen Kareem, Life under Isis in Raqqa and Mosul: ‘We’re living in a giant prison’, in The Guardian, 9 December 2015, in https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/09/life-under-isis-raqqa-mosul-giant-prison-syria-iraq ).
Useful also the numerous interviews published by The Guardian in June 2015 in: Mona Mahmood, Life in Mosul one year on: ‘Isis with all its brutality is more honest than the Shia government’, 10 June 2015, in https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/10/mosul-residents-one-year-on-isis-brutality . Always The Guardian, in 2018 reports other interesting interviews confirming what related to me, also for the sequence adopted to introduce the various restrictions in the town of Mosul: Abdul-Ahad Ghaith, The bureaucracy of evil: how Islamic State ran a city, in The Guardian, 29 January 2018, in https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/jan/29/bureaucracy-evil-isis-run-city-mosul .
Confirmation of several among the information received during my conversations comes also from “episode 7, titled “Mosul” in the series of podcasts “Caliphate” realized by Rutmiki Callimachi for The New York Times: Callimachi Rukmini, Caliphate – Podcasts, in The New York Times, May 2018, in https://radiopublic.com/caliphate/ep/s1!9082f .
 The video dealing with Mosul, titled “Inside Mosul”, whose duration is 8.15 minutes, was broadcasted on internet on January 3, 2015. For the comments to the video and some screenshots, see Joscelyn Thomas, British captive John Cantlie appears in new propaganda video from Mosul, in Long War Journal, December 7, 2016 in https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2016/12/british-captive-john-cantlie-appears-in-new-propaganda-video-from-mosul.php .
 Decidedly superior as compared to what was shown toward tobacco.
 In this sense see also the reports by the famous journalist of The New York Times Rukmini Callimachi, who went to Mosul in the immediate aftermath of IS defeat and found official documentation of the Caliphate confirming this information. For instance, Ms. Callimachi writes: “Ledgers, receipt books and monthly budgets describe how the militants monetized every inch of territory they conquered, taxing every bushel of wheat, every liter of sheep’s milk and every watermelon sold at markets they controlled. From agriculture alone, they reaped hundreds of millions of dollars. Contrary to popular perception, the group was self-financed, not dependent on external donors.” (Callimachi Rukmini, The ISIS Files: We unearthed thousands of internal documents that help explain how the Islamic State stayed in power so long, in The New York Times, 4 April 2018, in https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/04/04/world/middleeast/isis-documents-mosul-iraq.html?smid=tw-nytimes&smtyp=cur ).
 IS men, starting from early 2015, considered a danger the possession of a smartphone itself, whereby the GPS location, when active, placed at risk the crucial points of the city, independently from a possible collaboration with the enemy who, guided by the signals from the cellphones could have carried on focused bombings.
 In this sense, see: Maher Shiraz, Islamic State is not beaten and will return, in Newstatesman, 17 October 2017, in https://www.newstatesman.com/culture/observations/2017/10/islamic-state-not-beaten-and-will-return ; Ingram Haroro J. and Whiteside Craig, In Search of the Virtual Caliphate: Convenient Fallacy, Dangerous Distraction, in War on the Rock, 27 September 2017, in https://warontherocks.com/2017/09/in-search-of-the-virtual-caliphate-convenient-fallacy-dangerous-distraction/ ; Meserole Christopher, Terrorism in the smartphone era, 16 years after 9/11, in The Brookings, 11 Sptember 2017, in https://www.brookings.edu/blog/markaz/2017/09/11/terrorism-in-the-smartphone-era-16-years-after-911/ ; Bindner Laurence, Gluck Raphael, Wilayat Internet: ISIS’ Resilience across the Internet and Social Media, in Bellingcat, 1 September 2017, in https://www.bellingcat.com/news/mena/2017/09/01/wilayat-internet-isis-resilience-across-internet-social-media/ ; Clarke Colin and Winter Charlie, The Islamic State May Be Failing, but Its Strategic Communications Legacy Is Here to Stay, in War on the Rock, 17 August 2017, in https://warontherocks.com/2017/08/the-islamic-state-may-be-failing-but-its-strategic-communications-legacy-is-here-to-stay/ ; Ingram Haroro J., “How to Slaughter the Disbelievers”: Insights into IS’ Instructional Video, in ICCT, 29 November 2016, in https://icct.nl/publication/how-to-slaughter-the-disbelievers-insights-into-is-instructional-video/ ; Bindner Laurence and Gluck Raphael, Trends in Islamic State’s Online Propaganda: Shorter Longevity, Wider Dissemination of Content, in ICCT, 5 December 2018, in https://icct.nl/publication/trends-in-islamic-states-online-propaganda-shorter-longevity-wider-dissemination-of-content/ ; Winter Charlie, “The Virtual ‘Caliphate’: Understanding Islamic State’s Propaganda Strategy.”, Quilliam, 2015, in https://www.quilliaminternational.com/shop/e-publications/the-virtual-caliphate-understanding-islamic-states-propaganda-strategy/ .
 A long interview to a female doctor forced to work in a Mosul hospital without being able to leave the town can be found in Abdul-Ahad Ghaith, How the people of Mosul subverted Isis ‘apartheid’ – Part Two: the Fall, in The Guardian, 30 January 2018, in https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/jan/30/mosul-isis-apartheid .
 The latter started gradually to have the precedence over the citizens, who had, during these phases, an increasingly limited access to health care. In this sense see also Abdul-Ahad Ghaith, How the people of Mosul subverted Isis ‘apartheid’ – Part Two: the Fall, in The Guardian, 30 January 2018, in https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/jan/30/mosul-isis-apartheid .
 In this sense, see also the interesting details which are provided from a waiting room of a Sharia Court by John Cantlie in the video “From Inside Halab”, broadcasted online by IS in February 2015.
 Images of Police in the streets of Mosul, present in many IS videos, can be found also in some articles of newspapers, among them Newton Jennifer, ISIS creates its own POLICE force – complete with jail and cop cars – as terror group’s iron grip continues to grow over Iraqis, in The Daily Mail, 19 September 2014, in https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2762560/ISIS-creates-POLICE-force-complete-jail-cop-cars-terror-group-s-iron-grip-continues-grow-Iraqis.html .
 A mention of this type of Police, as I was told by some inhabitants of Mosul, even if they did not differentiate it from the Religious Police proper, is present in Colin P. Clarke, Kimberly Jackson, Patrick B. Johnston, Eric Robinson, and Howard Shatz, Financial Futures of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant: Findings from a RAND Corporation Workshop, Santa Monica, California, RAND Corporation, CF-361, 2017, in https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/conf_proceedings/CF300/CF361/RAND_CF361.pdf .
 As for more information on the military armament type available to IS Army see: WEAPONS OF THE ISLAMIC STATE. A three-year investigation in Iraq and Syria in Conflict Armament Research, December 2017, in http://www.conflictarm.com/publications/ .
 They had some small drones, which cannot be considered, for sure, an Air Force.
 In this sense, see also some interviews in Cockburn Patrick, Life under Isis: The everyday reality of living in the Islamic ‘Caliphate’ with its 7th Century laws, very modern methods and merciless violence, in Independent, 15 March 2015, in https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/life-under-isis-the-everyday-reality-of-living-in-the-islamic-caliphate-with-its-7th-century-laws-10109655.html .
 To go in depth about external security services see: CALLIMACHI RUKMINI, How a Secretive Branch of ISIS Built a Global Network of Killers, in The New York Times, 4 August 2016, in https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/04/world/middleeast/isis-german-recruit-interview.html .
As for their role in some among the attacks perpetrated in Europe, as those in Paris and Brussels in November 2015 and March 2016, see: Quadarella Sanfelice di Monteforte Laura, Why we are under attack. Al Qaeda, the Islamic State and the “do-it-yourself” terrorism, op.cit., 199ff.
 Considering that the “expenditure” for the release of a tag, during that period, as I was told, was 43 dollars, it was a very good system to ensure a relevant economic profit, not only an operation aiming to assert its own sovereignty.
 It is worth recalling, for instance, that among the young terrorists who hit Paris in November 2015 (through attacks at the Etade de France, at the Bataclan and at the cafés crowded with youngsters) there was a man named Abaaud, protagonist of a long article-interview, with several photographs taken in the Syrian-Iraqi theater, published online by IS in January 2015 in its magazine in English language Dabiq. About Abaaud we know that, after a long period as fighter in the Syrian-Iraqi theater, as a foreign fighter, he returned to Belgium and participated with a primary role in the organization of the cell responsible for several attacks between Belgium and France between 2014 and 2016, being killed in November 2015 during a blitz of the Police few days after the 13 November attacks, to which he participated by accompanying several perpetrators to the places of the attacks, albeit without shifting to action or, at least, without blowing up himself. Abaaud himself, ten months before of Paris attacks, precisely in the interview appeared in the n.7 of Dabiq, said that, notwithstanding the fact that he was known and pursued by the Intelligence Services of a large part of the world, he succeeded in traveling several times from Europe to the Levant, and then remaining in the West and organizing attacks. For more details see Quadarella Sanfelice di Monteforte Laura, Why we are under attack. Al Qaeda, the Islamic State and the “do-it-yourself” terrorism, Rome, 2017, 199ff.
 “In the Sykes-Picot agreement, as the arrangement became known, the two men payed lip service to the promise of Arab independence that McMahon had made to Hussein, but then used Sykes line in the sand – from Acre on the Mediterranean coast to Kirkuk near the Persian frontier – to divide in two the region that the British high commissioner had offered to Hussein. Territory north of the line would come under French protection; territory to the south, the British.
Within each of these two areas were zones where France and Britain could each establish full control if they so wished. The “Blue”, French, zone encompassed the Syrian and Lebanese coast, mushrooming into modern Turkey to the north. The “Red”, British, zone expanded the existing British bridgehead in southern Iraq up to Baghdad and, separately, covered the port of Haifa. Palestine was designated the color brown. The two parties sought the approval of their ally Russia, and finalized the agreement in an exchange of letters in May 1916.” (Barr James, A Line in the Sand – Britain, France and the struggle that shaped the Middle East, Simon & Schuster, UK, 2011, 31f.).
 Since Mosul has been liberated, I was told that for a very long period it could be possible to apply for a passport only by going to Baghdad, as the public bureaus of Mosul have not reopened and there were not agencies providing this service. In addition, since Summer 2017 people fell prey again of corruption: already after the invasion of 2003 to renovate the passport often meant in Iraq to bribe the employees due to corruption, and now things have returned to the same situation, and this blocks many devout Muslims from making the Hajj, as to comply with a precept of the Koran means violating another.
 In this sense see, for instance, the section devoted to transportation in Rumaysah Al Britani Abu, A brief Guide to the Islamic State (2015), broadcasted online in 2015.
 They costed 0,4 $ for some segments, while was totally free of charge for others.
 For instance, those most comfortable, normally used for long itineraries outside the city, were luxurious sedans (as the flagship cars Chrysler or Cadillac), curiously called “American taxi” or “Obama taxi”, as they recalled the cars used by the American President during his visit to Iraq after the war, except for their color, as these taxis were yellow.
 The fact that the efforts by IS men to make the public transportation in town efficient were contrasting with years of inertia, during which the authorities had not made absolutely anything can be deduced also from some passages of the already mentioned diary of the blogger MOSUL EYE, who on January 6, 2019, announces enthusiastically the arrival of new busses, and explains “Mosul have suffered from the lack of public transportation since 2003 when the ministry stopped supporting it. Now the city has 8 buses working on two lines one is connecting east with west side and the other north to south. (https://mosul-eye.org/2019/01/06/50-bus-to-support-public-transportation-in-mosul/ ).
 Some checks are visible online in Al-Tamimi Aymenn Jawad, Archive of Islamic State Administrative Documents (cont.), 11 January 2016, in http://www.aymennjawad.org/2016/01/archive-of-islamic-state-administrative-documents-1 .
 The payment of 10% in the agricultural sector recalls the ancient “tithe” payed for centuries in Europe.
 Samples of these modules are published in Al-Tamimi Aymenn Jawad, Archive of Islamic State Administrative Documents (cont.), 11 January 2016, in http://www.aymennjawad.org/2016/01/archive-of-islamic-state-administrative-documents-1 .
 This form of financing might be operational also after the fall of the Caliphate. In this sense, see Kenner David, All ISIS Has Left Is Money. Lots of It. – Even without a physical state, the Islamic State can still fund its main product: political violence, in The Atlantic, 24 March 2019, in https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2019/03/isis-caliphate-money-territory/584911/ . For more details on the utilization of the Hawala as a method to finance Islamic terrorism see Müller Sebastian R., Hawala. An Informal Payment System and Its Use to Finance Terrorism, 2012.
 Among them, we find the absolute ban of Riba, Gharar and Maysir, whereby with the term “Riba” it is meant both the usury and interests, while “Gharar” is the incertitude of contracts and “Maysir” is the speculation; the Islamic finance includes consequently the obligation of the sharing of risk (otherwise one among the parties is a speculator, and his gain is an interest). For more details on the basic elements of the Islamic finance see: Elasrag Hussein, Capire la finanza islamica, 2019; Elasrag Hussein, Understanding Islamic Finance, 2015; El-Gamal Mahmoud A., Islamic Finance: Law, Economics, and Practice, 2008; Uddin Akther, Principles of Islamic Finance: Prohibition of Riba, Gharar and Maysir, in MPRA, 2015, in https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/67711/1/MPRA_paper_67711.pdf .
 In this sense, on July 2, 2014 also the blogger MOSUL EYE reported the same consideration, by writing “They have declared that Shiaa are atheists and the city is a “Sunni city” only.” (https://mosul-eye.org/2014/07/02/mosul-eye-reponse-to-mr-foss-a-norwegian-journalist/ ).
 Since ever, the Islamic Law dictates that all non-Muslims who worship monotheist religions based on the Torah and come from Abraham, i.e. Christians and Jews, the so-called “People of the Book” (in Arabic الكتاب أهل ), due to a historic “protection pact” can become “dhimmi” (in Arabic ذمي). By becoming dhimmi they can enjoy protection and the benefit of numerous rights, among them to freely follow their cult, in exchange of the payment of the individual tax of the Jizya, besides being loyal towards the Islamic State and the Ummah, the Community of the Islamic faithful. For more details see Newell Abdul Kareem, Dhimmi – Non Muslims living in the Khilafah, 2017.
 Among the quotations best representing this concept, almost universally shared by all the most prominent experts of counter-terrorism read the following, abstracts of monographs on the group of Al Baghdadi:
“The rise of ISIS is, to some extent, the unintended consequence of Western intervention in Iraq. Coalition forces removed a brutal dictator from power, but they also broke the Iraqi state. The West lacked the patience, the will, and the wisdom to build a new, inclusive one. What remained were ruins.” (Stern Jessica – Berger J. M., ISIS: The State of Terror, HarperCollins, 2015, 238);
“The US-led invasion and the occupation of Iraq in 2003, combined with the subsequent social turmoil and prolonged and costly armed resistance, led to the dismantling of state institutions and the establishment of a political system based on muhasasa, or the distribution of the spoils of power along communal, ethnic, and tribal lines. Iraqi national identity has been in flux, gradually transformed as local sectarian and ethnic identities supersede the collective identity adopted by the Baath ruling party, one premised on Arabism and nationalism. By exposing the failure of the post-independence, post-colonial state to build an inclusive national identity, the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq caused a social rupture. The present sectarian-based political system and the dominant forces within it are largely product of the US occupation and the destruction of the state. […] the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq and the Syrian civil war were a defining moment in the reconstruction of a potent pan-Sunni identity in both countries and the wider region.” (Fawaz A. Gerges, ISIS: A History, 2017; Lister Charles, The Islamic State: A Brief Introduction, 2015, 8f.).
 In this sense, see Hassan Hassan, A Hollow Victory over the Islamic State in Syria? The High Risk of Jihadi Revival in Deir ez-Zor’s Euphrates River Valley, in CTC Sentinel – West Point Combating Terrorism Center, February 2019, https://ctc.usma.edu/hollow-victory-islamic-state-syria-high-risk-jihadi-revival-deir-ez-zors-euphrates-river-valley/ .
 It should not be forgotten that the group led by Al Baghdadi, still most active online, so to lead someone to speak about a Caliphate 2.0, is still active in many areas and in several continents, acting sometimes as a terrorist group, others as insurgent group, and having also in some restricted areas an effective territorial control. For a picture updated at Spring 2019 see: al-Lami Mina, Where is the Islamic State group still active around the world?, in BBC Monitoring, 27 March 2019, in https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/world-middle-east-47691006#click=https://t.co/1vEAjcnEd4 .
 According to some, this would be one among the main aspects of IS underrated by Western Governments, also because in this sense the Jihadist propaganda has incredibly turned itself, while being very active in showing the capabilities by the Caliphate in administering the territory and in attacking the West, and might willingly have hidden its insurgent side. In this sense, Ingram Haroro J. and Whiteside Craig, DO GREAT NATIONS FIGHT ENDLESS WARS? AGAINST THE ISLAMIC STATE, THEY MIGHT, 25 February 2019, in War on the Rock, https://warontherocks.com/2019/02/do-great-nations-fight-endless-wars-against-the-islamic-state-they-might/ .
 “As stressed throughout this book, ISIS exploited Sunni madhloumiya (a sense of victimization and injustice that many Sunnis felt in relation to the Shia ruling elite) and used the revolt of the poor, particularly agrarian, populations against authority as an integral part of its ideological project. In this sense, ISIS differs fundamentally from Al Qaeda Central by nourishing a social constituency rooted in a pan-Sunni identity that provides it with a plentiful source of potential recruits” (Fawaz A. Gerges, ISIS: A History, cit., 199f.).
 In this sense, see, for instance: Fawaz A. Gerges, ISIS: A History, op.cit.; Lister Charles, The Islamic State: A Brief Introduction, 2015, 8f. (“The US-led invasion and the occupation of Iraq in 2003, combined with the subsequent social turmoil and prolonged and costly armed resistance, led to the dismantling of state institutions and the establishment of a political system based on muhasasa, or the distribution of the spoils of power along communal, ethnic, and tribal lines. Iraqi national identity has been in flux, gradually transformed as local sectarian and ethnic identities supersede the collective identity adopted by the Baath ruling party, one premised on Arabism and nationalism. By exposing the failure of the post-independence, postcolonial state to build an inclusive national identity, the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq caused a social rupture. The present sectarian-based political system and the dominant forces within it are largely product of the US occupation and the destruction of the state. Separate sectarian identities di not and cannot represent a viable alternative for a new Iraq. ISIS succeeded in trading on the political system’s failure, but doing so does not make it repository of Sunni aspirations. Nevertheless, the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq and the Syrian civil war were a defining moment in the reconstruction of a potent pan-Sunni identity in both countries and the wider region. Even though ISIS would not have as well as it has without backing by an important Sunni segment, it is doubtful whether this pan-Islamism sentiment can now be seen as an enduring identity for Iraqi and Syrian Sunnis.”); Fawaz A. Gerges, Making the ARAB WORLD. Nasser, Qutb, and the clash that shaped the Middle East, Princeton University Press, 2018, 145 and 393f..