Basma’s phone is always in her pocket. She used to throw it around the house, but things have changed. She is waiting for a phone call from her father, who lives in Mosul and was not able to leave with his wife and children for a safer city.
She got married in Baghdad several years ago and has a close relationship with her father. She would visit him every month or he would come to the capital to see her. But the situation changed; the young employee who works at the Iraqi Ministry of Construction and Housing has not seen her father since June, i.e., since the dramatic fall of Mosul at the hands of the Islamic State (IS).
Mosul, a Sunni-majority city, has been completely isolated from its surroundings for more than a month now; IS cut the Internet and mobile phone networks and the city’s residents became prisoners of the extremist organization that unreasonably imposes its brutal laws.
Basma’s father, 55, a physician, crosses about 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) to the mountains near the province of Dahuk in the Kurdistan region to secure coverage for his mobile phone to call his daughter in Baghdad.
The physician told Al-Monitor over the phone that IS prosecutes anyone who tries to get network coverage on his mobile phone. “IS wants to fully isolate us from our surroundings,” he said. His weekly attempts to call his daughter may expose him to flogging or even the death penalty for violating IS’ rules.
“I am very cautious,” he said. “I hope I don’t get caught. All I can do is hope.”
It seems that IS has a strong intelligence apparatus: People in Mosul refused to reveal their names when talking to the media. This is why the physician, Basma’s father, did not disclose his name.