MOSUL, Iraq (Kurdistan24) – Residents in Mosul have warned of “wolves in sheep’s clothing” as Islamic State (IS) militants are still living among civilians in parts of the city which have already been liberated by Iraqi forces.
“There are at least 30 [IS] terrorists in my neighborhood. We know them very well,” Mohammed Sinan told NBC News. Sinan lives in the al-Andulus area in eastern Mosul which was recaptured in January.
Sinan also said he feels the threat of IS on a daily basis.
“These terrorists are like a ticking time bomb; they are ready to either explode or to carry out many terror attacks against people," the 43-year-old said.
According to Sinan, locals are afraid to report the fighters to the authorities. “I am afraid to go to security authorities [either the police or Iraqi troops] to give them information about a terrorist because he might be released,” Sinan said. “He might know I was the one who went to the security authorities and then I might be killed.”
Zuher Al-Juburi, a government-appointed city councilor in Mosul, revealed to NBC News there were hundreds of IS members living throughout the city.
“The only thing they did is shave their beards and change their clothes,” he said.
Al-Juburi, who is also the spokesman for Nineveh Hashd, a Sunni branch of the government-supported Hashd al-Shaabi, also known as the Popular Mobilization Force (PMF), claimed some of the extremists remain active in the city.
“It is wrong to say that these are sleeping ISIS cells because they are active and launch terror attacks from time to time,” Al-Juburi said.
He cautioned that not all of the remaining IS members still living in Mosul are fighters. He suggested some simply advocate the group's ideology and support it with money.
He also noted that corruption is widespread.
“Some of them pay [authorities] $200 to get documents which prove they are not affiliated with IS which means they can go everywhere in Iraq," he said.
Al-Juburi warned that although the ‘Caliphate’ had fallen,’ IS still exists.
“IS is defeated as an organization, but it is not defeated as a terror group. There is no Islamic State anymore but their fighters and supporters are still there, and they are ready to carry out terrorist attacks at any time,” he said.
More than ninety percent of Mosul has been retaken from IS since the offensive began in Oct. 2016, nine months ago.
Editing by Ava Homa