He spent almost two semesters as a student while ISIS ran his city, and he told us about the first day the mujahedeen (ISIS's fighters) came to speak to his class: "They wore Afghan clothes, like a long dress with a pistol around their waistband and bullets on their chest, an AK-47 on their back. Their beards were long, their hair was long." They mostly talked about killing people, which I'll cover in more detail, shortly. As a general rule though, Abood saw the ISIS guys more often outside of class than in it. "When they did the call for prayer they had a vehicle and would patrol, if they found someone not attending prayers they would hurt them."
"Abu Ahmed," the father of one Mosul student, gave us the parents-eye view of those first few weeks: "They said children must attend school. If they don't, they would come for the father. People were very scared at first." But gradually, he noticed other parents withdrawing their kids from school without repercussion. There's an important point in that; as terrifying as ISIS seems from our President's tweets, they only ever had between 4,500 and 7,500 fighters in Mosul. That's enough to wage a brutal guerilla battle against the Iraqi army, but it's not enough to search 200,000 households to make sure every kid attends class. That's definitely a "yeah, good luck with that" situation.
Abu Ahmed pulled his kid after one semester and never caught any flak for it. That said, Mr. Mohammed knew one man who died for pulling his kids out of class. A member of the Hisbah, ISIS's religious police, caught his kid truant and asked why he wasn't at class. "His son told the truth. And ISIS killed his father."
We met with a half-dozen different teachers in East Mosul, and this lady, "Ms. Faeruz," was clearly the group's spokesperson:
Magenta Vaughn (Click Image For Full Size)
Ms. Faeruz is second lady on the left.
She's been a teacher for 32 years, which means Ms. Faeruz has been educating Iraqi kids since Saddam Hussein was a fresh new name, practicing his mustache flexing. It also means she's seen more war than the average general. Here's how she described the first few weeks of ISIS rule as a teacher:
"They showed us how to teach children. They bring us their rules. They separated female from male." That part really pissed her off (which, if I'm being honest, did give me the "hell yeah" shiver). "They should be together! This is the first thing they did. They separated male and female teachers [too]."
They also shot up the school's water tank, because at their core most ISIS militants are childish douchebags with guns. "The barrel full of water, the water tank. They shoot it." And then, to top things off, "ISIS burned all the textbooks."