After the reclusive leader of the Sunni Muslim extremist group that took over Mosul made an appearance at the city’s famous mosque, many of the extremists are boasting that Mosul is to be the capital of their new Islamic state. Evidence that they’re right comes in the form of “Islamic police” patrol cars taking locals to Islamic courts, “Islamic customs duties” levied at the border as well religious overseers in the markets telling local women their clothes are too tight.
Two days ago Mosul man, Abu Zahra, and his friend, another Mosul local, Abed Hamdoun, might have had to kill each other had they met on the street. But today in the northern Iraqi city that was recently taken over by Sunni Muslim extremists, they are able to shake hands. Zahra was so happy to be able to do this, he was crying.
Zahra is a senior member of the Sunni Muslim extremist group known as the Islamic State while Hamdoun belongs to another extremist group, Ansar al-Islam. Previously there had been fighting between the two groups as a result of internal politics that had to do with which extremist parent-group the fighters said they belonged to.
The reason for this extremist reunion: Ansar al-Islam has pledged its allegiance to the Islamic State, or IS, group one day after a sermon made by the IS group’s leader in Mosul. And Hamdoun was leading a group of fighters into the city to pledge allegiance publicly to the IS group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
In late June, the IS group announced that they had created an “Islamic caliphate” in the parts of Iraq and Syria that they controlled. Although they have been helped by a variety of armed groups to achieve this goal, the IS group have said that they are firmly in charge of this territory and that other groups must pledge allegiance to their leader, al-Baghdadi. Although Ansar al-Islam, the second largest militant group in Mosul, had been opposed to the IS group, now they have decided to join ranks and do as the IS group asked.