Iraqis recently celebrated the first anniversary of the defeat of ISIS.
But, as construction cranes slowly rebuild regions where ISIS ruled until December 2017, echoes of the insurgency are still rebounding in the country’s second-largest city, the Washington Times reported on Monday.
Residents of Mosul said they are increasingly facing the same corruption that bedeviled their city in the run-up to ISIS’ blitzkrieg rise to power in 2014. Government soldiers and local militia groups that run the city routinely commit human rights violations, including racketeering, unjust imprisonment and extortion.
“In prison, they threatened not to set me free and that they will accuse me with other terrorist crimes if I did not pay $30,000,” said Mohammed Omar, a 30-year-old who has an engineering degree but owns a clothing store. “The longer I delay paying, the more I’ll have to pay.”
Omar’s family sold a plot of land to pay the sum. They had been planning to build a house on it so he and his brother could marry and start families.
The fear of a revived threat from ISIS has been given new urgency with President Trump’s surprise announcement this month that he would be withdrawing some 2,000 U.S. troops across the Syrian border, troops who have been working with local Arab and Kurdish allies to quash ISIS insurgency there.
Trump contends that ISIS has been decimated in Syria, but skeptics fear a premature withdrawal could give the deadly terrorist organization an opening to regroup on both sides of the Iraqi-Syrian border.