âI will leave Mosul because it has become a destroyed city,â said Aisha Abdullah, a teacher from Mosul who endured life under the Islamic State. âIn every corner of it there is memory and blood.â
And while the Islamic State, with its harsh rule, alienated many of the Sunni residents it sought to represent, many residents said its ideology caught on among some of the population, especially young men.
âThere is no use in reconstructing the city if the people of Mosul donât change,â said Ms. Abdullah. âThere are still many people who assist ISIS, and the acts of violence will never end.â
Marwan Saeed, another Mosul resident, who lives in the cityâs east side, which was liberated in January and where life has largely been restored to normal, with schools and shops reopening and most civilians returning home, said he feared for the future, now more than ever.
âFrankly, Iâm desperate over the future,â he said. âISIS destroyed the peopleâs mentality, and the wars destroyed the infrastructure, and we paid the price. There is no such thing as the phase after ISIS. ISIS is a mentality, and this mentality will not end with guns alone.â
And there is the fear that many Islamic State fighters who were not captured or killed had simply put down their guns and blended in with the civilian population, to live to fight another day.
âDo you know that most of the ISIS fighters have shaved their beards and took off their clothes, and now they are free?â said Zuhair Hazim al-Jibouri, a member of Mosulâs local council.