ISIS was officially declared territorially defeated last March, but its remnants still are causing huge problems for the Christian community that once lived on the Nineveh Plains in Iraq.
International Christian Concern noted terrorists now have adopted a strategy of insurgency where they previously controlled territory, meaning Christians still face threats from the violent Muslim movement.
In addition, some Muslim residents in the territory who aligned with ISIS when it was in control remain a threat.
And there’s the general instability of the government in a region that was taken over by terrorists.
The report from Claire Evans explained that Iraq’s Nineveh Plains traditionally have been home to most of Iraq’s Christians.
But in under the current circumstances, “Christians are left wondering what future is left for them in Iraq.”
One city that’s been hit particularly hard is Mosul, which was home to nearly 60,000 Christians before ISIS.
“None have permanently returned; however, many Christians in the Nineveh Plains are forced to frequently travel to Mosul as it is the administrative capital of the governorate,” the report said.
Christians there worry about security.
“Half of the civilians in Mosul joined ISIS,” a Mosul priest told ICC. “Christians saw many movies on social media of how civilians welcomed ISIS in June 2014. How can they trust those people anymore?”
In fact, 27 members of ISIS were killed by Iraqi Security Forces just last month, the report said.
The prosecution of alleged ISIS militants happens in Iraq’s counter-terrorism courts, but they do not always provide due process, and sometimes are overwhelmed with work.
“The court with the highest number of ISIS suspects in Iraq is located in Nineveh’s town of Telkeif. It is estimated that 9,000 cases were opened last year,” the report said.
So far, about 15 Christian families have returned to Telkeif.
Courts still fail to engage the victims, the report said.
And now, ICC says the repatriation of ISIS militants to Iraq from Syria “poses a serious question of how and where to house their accompanying families.”
Iraq is seeking the repatriation of 30,000 citizens, mostly women and children, who lived under ISIS in Syria, ICC said.
The overall lack of governance and security across the region also gives militias, backed by Iran, an opportunity to treat Christians as second-class citizens.
And lately, the report said: “Mysterious fires targeting agricultural fields are becoming increasingly common in Iraq and are usually claimed by ISIS. In the Nineveh Plains, the situation is blurred. Fires impacting local agriculture ignited in the Christian cities of Karamles and Qeraqosh in late May.
It is unclear whether the fires were intentionally started. Some locals believe that fires in the Nineveh Plains were started by Iranian-backed militias attempting to ensure Iraqi reliance on Iran. Others believe the fires were started because of ISIS or tension between local community groups.”