Secretly Filmed Video Shows Life in Mosul One Year After ISIS Capture

2015-05-22T114515Z_1_LYNXMPEB4L0JC_RTROPTP_3_IRAQ-SECURITY-ISLAMICSTATE
A sign (in white) by ISIS is seen in the city of Mosul, Iraq, in 2014. Reuters

Updated | The BBC Tuesday published secretly recorded footage of life under the Islamic State (ISIS) one year after the militant group took control of the city of Mosul in northern Iraq.

The daily lives of the city's residents have been "changed in an indescribable way," according to one resident who spoke with the BBC. Supplies of fuel are running low, forcing locals to buy gas on the black market, while construction and garbage collection has stopped. Many children have quit going to school, and some schools now teach an ISIS-approved curriculum. Propaganda videos often play in the markets, and militants also attempt to indoctrinate and control the city's population through "media points," where the group can spread its message.

"I've come to the conclusion that the goal of this organization is to plant the seeds of violence, hate and sectarianism into children's minds," resident Mahmoud told the BBC.

ISIS captured Mosul, around 250 miles from Baghdad, in June 2014, as part of the group's goal to establish an Islamic caliphate, or state, across Iraq and Syria. In Iraq, Kurdish fighters known as the Peshmerga and the Iraqi army have struggled to stop the group's advance. An attempt to retake Mosul from ISIS by the Iraqi army proved unsuccessful, and the military also recently came under fire for failing to stop ISIS in May from taking control of Ramadi, just 80 miles west of Baghdad.

A number of clips, obtained by BBC journalist Ghadi Sary, document the restrictive life that many Mosul residents, but especially women and minorities, are forced to endure under the group. One video shows women wearing the full veil, or niqab, which is harshly enforced by the group, according to a woman who spoke with the BBC. In the same video, a woman is chastised by ISIS for not wearing gloves, despite being totally covered with a veil.

"The price of clothes has gone up a lot. What can a woman with four or five daughters do?" one woman asks.

Religious and ethnic persecution is also common under ISIS, with many Christian neighborhoods in Mosul now deserted. Christians living under the group have had their homes taken away, and some have had their property branded with the letter N, which stands for Nasrani, the group's name for Christians. Nearly all Mosul's 60,000 Christians have left the city, the BBC reports. Punishments against people found guilty of theft or adultery are often carried out in public, one resident told the news organization. This testimony echoes reports from earlier this year of ISIS militants throwing gay men to their deaths from buildings. Previous reports by the Associated Press and the United Nations have also documented examples of people, including children, being forced to witness public displays of violence by the militant group.

On Monday, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom urged the U.S. to increase its annual refugee ceiling from 70,000 to 100,000, which would allow the country to resettle some of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Syrians who have been displaced by ISIS's offensive. The USCIRF also called on the U.S. to support a U.N. Security Council referral to the International Criminal Court to investigate ISIS attacks on religious and ethnic minorities.