Signs of panic, rebellion in the heart of I.S.’s self-proclaimed caliphate

islamic-state-mapThe graffiti that appeared on a wall near the mosque in Mosul where the Islamic State leader declared his caliphate two years ago was a small but symbolic act of rebellion.

The spray-painted letter “m” — for the Arabic word “mukawama,” meaning resistance — was part of a campaign by Kitaeb al-Mosul, an underground opposition group in the northern Iraqi city that released a video detailing their efforts this month.

The Islamic State reacted with swift brutality, executing three young men it accused of being involved. The militants released their own video showing the men kneeling in orange jumpsuits before being shot in the head. The letter “m” was sprayed on the wall behind them, a reference to their alleged crime. A spray can lay on the ground beside them, surrounded by blood.

In recent months, the Islamic State has carried out more arrests and executions such as these in a sign of desperation as it faces the prospect of losing Mosul, according to reports from inside the city.

Mosul is the largest city under Islamic State control and is central to its narrative of having restored the Islamic caliphate. It was less than a month after Mosul fell in June 2014 that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi appeared in the mosque there and called on Muslims to follow him.

The recapture of the city would be a significant step toward depriving the Islamic State of its territory and forcing the group back into an insurgency, U.S. and Iraqi officials say. That is only a matter of time, they add.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has pledged to retake Mosul by the end of the year, and the Iraqi air force dropped 7 million leaflets on the city last week telling residents to prepare for the “zero hour.”

As Iraqi forces — and the U.S. troops advising them — move closer, making the recently recaptured Qayyarah Air Base, 25 miles south of Mosul, a logistical hub for the impending battle, the Islamic State has also been making preparations.

“Daesh is weaker in Mosul, but it is using methods of oppression like random arrests to try and show it is still in control,” said a representative of Kitaeb al-Mosul. Daesh is an alternative name for Islamic State. He spoke on the condition of anonymity for security reasons. He described the atmosphere in the city as “tense” and said the militants were in a state of “confusion.”

The Islamic State began carrying out mass arrests after the group began its graffiti campaign two months ago, he said.

The militants have constructed new berms around neighborhoods on the north, east and south sides of the city, he said. In some neighborhoods, concrete barricades have been erected, he said, speculating that the militants are trying to isolate neighborhoods because they are concerned that residents may turn against them if Iraqi forces draw near.

“Right now they are making arrests with no investigation, in a way they didn’t before,” said Sheikh Mohammed al-Jarba, a tribal leader from the city, who said he is regularly in touch with people there.

“I know they are digging new trenches around the city,” he said. “They’ve never stopped digging them.”

Internet connections to homes in Mosul have been banned over the past two months, as the Islamic State attempts to prevent information on its positions from leaking out. Cell networks have been largely cut for more than a year and a half.

However, some patches of phone network remain, and those with relatives in Mosul occasionally receive updates from their loved ones, allowing some glimpses of life in the city.

There are no accurate estimates of the number of civilians that remain in the city, but the United Nations has said more than a million people could flee Mosul and its surroundings during the offensive. Some Iraqi officials and relatives of residents say that figure could be even higher because thousands of people have arrived in Mosul after offensives in other Islamic State areas.

Atheel al-Nujaifi, the former governor of the province, who is now based in the northern city of Irbil, said the displaced had come from areas including Qayyarah, which was retaken by Iraqi forces this month. Some civilians from largely Sunni areas fear how they will be treated by security forces after an area is retaken; others may have sympathies or allegiances to the group or have simply been fleeing the fighting in any direction they could.

Nujaifi said people had arrived from as far away as Manbij in Syria, which was retaken by U.S.-backed rebel forces a month ago.

The presence of a large number of civilians complicates the offensive, which is expected to rely heavily on coalition air support. The Iraqi government and humanitarian aid agencies are also attempting to prepare for a huge exodus but have warned they lack resources.

One former Mosul resident said the Islamic State has been seizing empty homes to house those displaced, including the house of her grandmother who had left the city.

“The number of people has increased a lot,” she said, adding that her friends and relatives had said there had been “searching campaigns” on houses.

“They are paranoid, and the number of searches is way more than before,” said the woman, who now lives in the Iraqi city of Dahuk and whose name has been withheld for safety reasons.

In the same Islamic State video that shows the execution of the alleged spray-painters, the group also executed three men it accused of spying.

“Send your agents and spies; our swords are ready for them and are thirsty for their blood,” a militant said, accusing the men of being “the eyes of America.”

The U.S. military estimates that around 3,000 to 4,500 militants remain in Mosul. Over the past two months, U.S.-led airstrikes have killed 12 Islamic State leaders in Mosul alone, Col. John Dorrian, a spokesman for the coalition, said in a recent briefing.

“These strikes have a disruptive effect on the enemy command and control, which is important in setting conditions for Mosul’s liberation,” he said.

Some officials said people who have collaborated with Islamic State are attempting to switch sides.

“Their own members are trying to deny them,” said Abubaker Kbi, the head of the Sunni Awqaf for Mosul — the official representatives for its mosques. Despite the mosques now being Islamic State controlled, he said he is still in contact with people in the city and has heard from Islamic State members who want to leave.

The former resident said that arrests have also singled out former officers who served in the military under Saddam Hussein.

“They know that they still might have connections to some people in the military, and they are afraid that they will cooperate with the army or turn against them,” she said.

Another resident who fled Mosul but is still in touch with his brother in the city said former officers had been targeted.

One of his distant relatives — a direct relation of a former army officer — had been randomly arrested five days ago, he said.

“All the old officers — they are targeting them and their families,” he said.

Nujaifi said there are also signs of disarray among Islamic State’s ranks, with increasing corruption inside the group. Despite a ban on leaving the city, some residents have been able to escape by paying large bribes.

However, many don’t have the means to do so. For them, it is a waiting game.

“They say even if it means their houses are destroyed, it will be worth it in the end,” the woman in Dahuk said. “They might be weaker, but Islamic State have a strong fist and they are being harsher than you can imagine.”

Stripes

  • 5thDrawer

    takes a while for the underground to show …. the youngest brainwashed won’t understand it …

    • 5thDrawer

      When they all start running at the same time, will they be ‘refugees’ ? 😉

  • Hind Abyad
    • Rudy1947

      Still trying to sell that worthless crap article?

      • 5thDrawer

        The intel chief was selling the crap of the article …

        • Rudy1947

          In one article his speech was described as:

          “His speech gave a general overview of the region, but did not reveal any information not previously released by the Israel Defense Forces.”

          The General made no mention of any preference of Daesh over anyone else nor is it Israel’s position to prefer Daesh over anyone else.

          • 5thDrawer

            ‘Cracked’ magazine pushed Spy VS Spy. Maybe should have concentrated on Article VS Article articles more … hmmm

          • Rudy1947

            It was MAD mag in the states.

          • 5thDrawer

            Good old Alfred E … had that too … :-))) (the New Man 😉

          • Hind Abyad

            Israeli Intel Chief: We Don’t Want ISIS Defeated in Syria

          • Rudy1947

            Supply the link to the ACTUAL quote.

          • Hind Abyad

            It was suplied 21 hours ago up there

          • Rudy1947

            Where? I read the article and several more just like it. None provided any real quote from the General. Maybe 5th can help to provide. I await a real quote, not an assumption.

          • 5thDrawer

            Assuming you are all on one page, these are called ‘double quotation’ marks. “….”
            And actually mean the same thing ….
            http://news.antiwar.com/2016/01/19/israeli-dm-prefers-isis-to-iran/

          • Hind Abyad

            He’s doing same thing as Matrix

          • Rudy1947

            Yeah, proving your crap to be nothing more than crap.

          • 5thDrawer

            Needs guidance … maybe too much ‘MAD’ and ‘Captain America’ – which was revised.

          • Rudy1947

            You had had too much Cracked mag old man.

          • 5thDrawer

            ‘Superman’ was a favourite – although when some jerks discovered bits of his home planet drifting through space, he needed to either use his brain, or have some human help.

          • 5thDrawer

            Only Matrix does it in German or something … easier to ignore. :-))))

          • Rudy1947

            Would it be different in French Canadian eh?

          • 5thDrawer

            We each do our best in an English-Only weblog….. (read rules – sometimes overlooked)

          • Rudy1947

            French seems to be used often, again does that make a difference?

          • 5thDrawer

            Hell, I’ve even seen Sanscrite and Hebrew in here, over the six years …. maybe learned a word or two on some …
            I was taking Arabic, but people laughed at my attempts … I gave up.
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/93f8a9457613d808f3fc03b647f4862047613428b7eb2e70234624619f833033.jpg
            I know .. another repeat … but every year there’s some new folks who enjoy …

          • Rudy1947

            Creative. My first attempt at Sanskrit language was Burmese, compliments of Army training over 40 years ago.

          • 5thDrawer

            And French is very handy in the Muddled East.

          • Rudy1947

            How would the French version of your Arabic look like?

          • 5thDrawer

            Strangely enough, I never looked up that nasty word there … ‘mange le marde’ was more appropriate.

          • Rudy1947

            Burmese is a tonal language so the best I can remember is “chi sa ba”, depending on the tone of course.

          • Hind Abyad

            You had had too much Cracked mag old man.

          • PatienceTew

            I think I’m beginning to learn a little Arabic … I actually got the sense of what that said!

          • Rudy1947

            Different article, different person. However, Ya’alon gave the choice of dealing with Iran or Daesh. He chose Daesh because they are not as much of a threat as Iran. Now where did he say he didn’t want Daesh defeated?

          • 5thDrawer

            Why argue when they are all on the same page militarily? Surely the military minds wouldn’t say something much beyond the agreed-upon concepts.

          • Rudy1947

            Why argue?? Simple, the two of you are wrong.

          • 5thDrawer

            Just checking all the quotes. 😉

          • Rudy1947

            Sure you are, too bad they mean nothing to you.

          • 5thDrawer

            To be accurate … they mean different things to you and I. And perhaps different to Hind as well. Being attracted to something someone says, doesn’t mean one needs to agree.

          • Rudy1947

            But do they mean that Israel doesn’t want Daesh defeated?

          • 5thDrawer

            Nope … it’s a ‘first preference’ of otherwise …. will take on IS later … since they are smaller at the moment, and are also shitting on Hamas for not doing enough.

          • Rudy1947

            I’m reminded of an old song, Spinning Wheel by BS&T.

          • 5thDrawer

            Well, you’ve spun in a few subject here again.

          • Rudy1947

            Where?

          • Hind Abyad

            Ya’alon helping ISIS (non of the two articles “Generals” used the word Daesh”.

            “Jerusalem’s policy vis-à-vis the Druze in Syria “is very complicated and sensitive,”
            Ya’alon said, adding that it is not in the rebels’ interest to publicize the fact that Israel assists them”.

          • Hind Abyad

            Maybe you can help yourself.. which general Generale are you referring to?

          • Rudy1947

            zzzzzzzzzzz

          • Hind Abyad
          • Hind Abyad

            I said it’s up there

            “In a speech at the Herzliya Conference, Israel’s military intelligence chief, Major General Herzi Halevy, took Israel’s long-standing position that it “prefers ISIS” over the Syrian government to a whole ‘nother level, declaring openly that Israel does not want to see ISIS defeated in the war.

            Quoted in the Hebrew-language NRG site, linked to Maariv, Maj. Gen. Halevy expressed concern about the recent offensives against ISIS territory, saying that in the last three months the Islamist group was facing the “most difficult” situation since its inception and declaration of a caliphate.”

            That explain US massacre of Syrian soldiers while ISIS were chanting Alahuakbar!

          • Rudy1947

            I read the article and many like it. No where does it say the Israel does not want Daesh defeated and you have nothing to confirm the General or Israel has a long standing position of not wanting Daesh defeated.

          • Hind Abyad

            Too lazy?
            “In a speech at the Herzliya Conference, Israel’s military intelligence chief, Major General Herzi Halevy, took Israel’s long-standing position that it “prefers ISIS” over the Syrian government to a whole ‘nother level, declaring openly that Israel does not want to see ISIS defeated in the war.

            Quoted in the Hebrew-language NRG site, linked to Maariv, Maj. Gen. Halevy expressed concern about the recent offensives against ISIS territory, saying that in the last three months the Islamist group was facing the “most difficult” situation since its inception and declaration of a caliphate.

            Israeli officials have regularly expressed comfort with the idea of ISIS conquering the whole of Syria”
            http://news.antiwar.com/2016/06/21/israeli-intel-chief-we-dont-want-isis-defeated-in-syria/

          • Rudy1947

            Repeat below.

          • Hind Abyad

            Rudy1947 Hind Abyad • 2 hours ago
            Supply the link to the ACTUAL quote.
            • Reply•Share ›

          • Rudy1947

            Yes Hind, for the cerebral challenged:

            Rudy1947 Hind Abyad • 20 minutes ago

            I read the article and many like it. No where does it say the Israel does not want Daesh defeated and you have nothing to confirm the General or Israel has a long standing position of not wanting Daesh defeated.

            • Edit• Reply•Share ›

          • Hind Abyad

            “I read the article and many like it. No where does it say the Israel does not want Daesh defeated and you have nothing to confirm the General or Israel has a long standing position of not wanting Daesh defeated.”
            Time for you to give the links to “many articles” spammer

          • Rudy1947

            The other links said the same verbiage, a mere copy of the original.

          • Hind Abyad

            Poor thing is desperate..

          • Rudy1947

            Sweetheart, I’ve already seen the “Antiwar”. verteranstoday, Sputnikniknews, mintpress, globalresearch, etc. Anyone that is desperate is you.

          • Hind Abyad

            I don’t belong to Israel Hasbara Fellowship;-)
            No masters, no sect and free.

            “Ya’alon took part in every major Israeli war since 1973, and his name was later associated with the most atrocious of Israeli wars and massacres, first in Lebanon and, later, in Gaza.

            His ‘morality’ never dissuaded him from ordering some of the most unspeakable war crimes carried out against civilians, neither in Qana, Lebanon (1996) nor in Shujaya, Gaza (2014).

            Ya’alon refused to cooperate with any international investigation conducted by the UN or any other monitoring group into his violent conduct. In 2005, he was sued in a US court by the survivors of the Qana massacre in which hundreds of civilians and UN peacekeepers were killed and wounded in Israeli military strikes in Lebanon. In that case, neither Israeli nor American morality prevailed, and justice is yet to be delivered.”

          • Rudy1947

            Thanx for the “bio” but still doesn’t show anything that Ya’alon does not want Daesh defeated.

          • Hind Abyad

            I don’t care i don’t Owe you anything.Stop it

          • Hind Abyad

            Link to one “Article”?

          • Rudy1947

            Look it up yourself. Very easy to find if you so desire.

          • Hind Abyad

            Ow…pretty vague for a creature demanding links from others..haha..the Zionist morality.
            Hasbara Fellow Talking points.
            http://www.hasbarafellowships.org/israel-peace-week-2/talking-points-2