Others have also pledged allegiance to al-Baghdadi. A number of unknown armed groups in the city have done so as have some tribal groups. The latter have been seen marching to the IS group’s headquarters, now in local authority buildings, with banners, chanting slogans and promising loyalty to the IS group.
The IS group has also been able to mobilize younger people in Mosul; a lot of locals aged between around 15 and 30 have stepped forward to make the same pledge.
One young Mosul man, Ahmed Habib, told NIQASH that when he asked about volunteering for IS at one of the centres, he was told that if he took the pledge he must obey al-Baghdadi up until his death. If he changed his mind later and renounced that vow, then he would be considered an apostate, the punishment for which was death.
Recently IS group leader, al-Baghdadi, who has hardly been seen at all and who has been notoriously media-shy, was filmed by his group’s propaganda team preaching at Mosul’s landmark Great Mosque of Al Nouri. Afterwards groups of men approached al-Baghdadi.
One local who asked what was going on was told that the men were pledging allegiance too. “Up until now it seems that this pledge is voluntary,” the local man, who preferred not to give his name for security reasons, said. “The ball is currently in the local people’s court. But that can’t last forever,” he speculated. “Soon anyone who has not pledged loyalty will be considered an enemy,” he suggested.
Al-Baghdadi’s public appearance made many of the IS group members proud and they began to tell locals openly that Mosul would be the capital of the new Islamic state they had formed. All other conquests would be launched from Mosul, they said.
Whatever does happen, the IS group is certainly acting as though Mosul is their capital, especially now that their “Caliph” – al-Baghdadi – was present and that people had pledged allegiance to him.