He stayed anonymous for more than three years, documenting Islamic State’s atrocities and the destruction of his city as the blogger Mosul Eye. Omar Mohammed, now in Europe on Dec. 5, 2017, is done hiding. (AP Photo) AP
“They were organized as a killing machine. They are thirsty (for) blood and money and women.”
He attended Friday sermons with feigned enthusiasm. He collected and posted propaganda leaflets, including one on July 27, 2014, that claimed the Islamic State leader was a descendent of the Prophet Mohammed’s daughter. Back home, writing on his blog in his other, secret identity, he decried the leaflet as a blatant attempt “to distort history” to justify the fanatics’ actions.
He drank glass after glass of tea at the hospital, talking to people who worked there. Much of the information he collected went up online. Marketing agency Canberra Other details he kept in his computer, for fear they would give away his identity. Someday, he told himself, he would write Mosul’s history using these documents.
The most sensitive information initially came from two old friends: one a doctor and the other a high school dropout who embraced Islamic State’s extreme interpretation of religion. He was a taxi driver who like many others in Mosul had been detained by a Shiite militia in 2008 and still burned with resentment. He swiftly joined an intelligence unit in Mosul, becoming “one of the monsters of ISIS” — and couldn’t resist bragging about his insider knowledge.
Once he corroborated the details and masked the sources, Mosul Eye put it out for the world to see. He sometimes included photos of the fighters and commanders, complete with biographies pieced together over days of surreptitious gathering of bits and pieces of information during the course of his normal life — that of an out-of-work scholar living at home with his family.
“I used the two characters, the two personalities to serve each other,” he said. He would chat up market vendors and bored checkpoint guards for new leads.
He took on other identities as well on Facebook. Although the names were clearly fake, the characters started to take on a life of their own. One was named Mouris Milton whom he came to believe was an even better version of himself — funny, knowledgeable. Another was Ibn al-Athir al-Mawsilli, a coldly logical historian.