Their identities are secret. They work after sundown, preferring deserted areas of the city. No one knows where they will strike next. They target different neighborhoods each time.
Their mission is simple: to kill Islamic State militants.
Their targets never vary, but their methods do. Sometimes they use snipers to take out a militant. Sometimes they plant roadside bombs and blow up cars. Sometimes they stab their victims, sometimes strangle them.
They are Mosul’s vigilante brigades, shadowy groups of civilians turned armed assassins who risk their lives to kill Islamic State gunmen — as well as those who support them.
The Islamic State, also known as IS or ISIS, has done its best to eliminate these assassins, tracking down and killing as many of them as it can. But local people in Mosul say these anonymous resistance fighters have had an impact, that ISIS has covered up the killings and changed how its gunmen operate in Mosul.
Hiding behind beards
“Do you know why IS ordered all men [in Mosul] to grow their beards?” the young man asks with a laugh. “It’s because they don’t want to be recognized.”
The young man says he is part of an anti-ISIS group called the Brigades of Mosul that assassinates ISIS militants. He tells RFE/RL’s correspondent in Mosul that his group has taken out ISIS gunmen using sniper rifles. Since then, the militants have tried to disguise themselves so they blend in with the public, the young man says.
ISIS tries to cover up the assassinations of its gunmen, witnesses in Mosul say, a sign the militant group is embarrassed by the killings.
A worker in one of Mosul’s morgues tells RFE/RL on condition of anonymity that he receives ISIS corpses from time to time, though he will not give a precise number.
“IS don’t talk a lot about these dead bodies,” the morgue worker says. “But if the group has to give some kind of explanation, they say the gunmen were killed in combat or in coalition airstrikes.”
But the corpses do not show injuries consistent with ISIS’ explanations of their deaths.
Read More HERE