First Revenge, Then Subordination
"In the beginning, there will be revenge. But then it will be better."
"[When ISIL militants arrived in our village], we were all deceived by their appearance. We thought they were Muslims. [Once they began punishments for petty crimes and extorted residents], we realized they had nothing to do with Islam."
Ali, 40, Sunni Iraqi driver
"The whole village received me. They all like me. They cried for me [when she left her husband. She began to brace herself for recriminations from her husband’s affiliation with Islamic State]."
"It wasn’t my fault. I’m not guilty. Why should we [her wailing children] be displaced?"
Khowla, Sunni Iraqi woman, wife of Islamic State fighter
Those in the camps are guarded by armed men allied with the Iraqi regime. The camp doesn't offer much; no electricity, only tents set up where children play in the dirt while their mothers wonder where the food to feed them all will come from. In Khowla's instance, the camp has been placed close to her home village. She is not permitted to enter the village, to go to her home, already being used by another family. She is kept in the camp awaiting interrogation by Iraqi officials interested in her husband.
Gradually, thousands of Sunni Iraqis have begun their exit from their home villages, as the 30,000-strong allied Iraqi forces move closer into Mosul's surrounding perimeter preparatory to recapturing the city ruled by Islamic State for the past two years. The Sunni Iraqis sitting in the camps await questioning from authorities to explain their own activities during the time they lived under the Islamic State jihadis. Uncovering any links they may have had with ISIL appears a primary objective.
Human rights groups have reported executions, torture, arbitrary arrests of Sunni Iraqis by the militias and Iraqi security forces. Any with family members who had joined ISIL are barred from a return to their villages by local officials, by tribal authorities, or by vengeful neighbours. East of Mosul another camp holds dozens of young men behind a padlocked gate, separate from families. Some of the men had been sequestered for 40 days, with no indication when, or if they might be permitted to leave.
"We fled a prison for another prison", Mohamed Asad said, sitting among a group of young men.