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Citizens Under ISIS Rule Are Waking Up To Its Horrors

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Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent
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Citizens living in Islamic State’s rule are increasingly chafing under its brutal implementation of Sharia law, two years to the day since ISIS declared its so-called caliphate.

Many Sunnis in Iraq and Syria felt oppressed by Shiites and originally welcomed ISIS as liberators. In Iraq, Sunnis felt oppressed by the Baghdad government, and in Syria the Shiite President Bashar Assad regime heavily targeted Sunni opposition groups. After ISIS solidified control over major cities in Iraq and Syria, it fully implemented Sharia law, banning smoking, punishing people for violating strict dress codes, and publicly executing its enemies.

Iraqi military commanders say ISIS fighters are no longer zealously Islamic fighters, but are poorer residents from the areas it controls. This new brand of fighters are less ideologically committed to ISIS’s caliphate, and are not as effective on the battlefield.

The Baghdad government stopped paying salaries to government employees who remain under ISIS custody. After the salaries were cut, several residents were forced to rely on ISIS for services they couldn’t deliver. The animosity growing upon the populations ruled by ISIS is reminiscent of Sunni tribesmen under al-Qaida rule in 2007. These Sunni tribesmen were crucial partners in the U.S. effort to defeat al-Qaida in Iraq during the surge.

ISIS’s education system similarly is entirely focused on its war efforts. ISIS math classes frame all word problems in terms of the war effort, and its English lessons consist of having children repeat ISIS slogans over and over again. ISIS’s inability to successfully administer a state is suffering as the U.S. coalition hammers financial assets, and as U.S. backed Syrian rebel forces target its most beneficial strongholds.

Recently, Mohamad Khweis, an American citizen raised in Virginia, was captured by Iraqi Kurdish forces in late March saying life with Islamic State was “really bad,” and he wanted to come back to America. “It’s not like the Western countries, you know, it’s very strict. There’s no smoking. I found it hard for everyone there,” a stunned Khweis told Kurdistan 24 News Channel upon his capture. Khweis elaborated “I found it very, very hard to live there.”

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