Omar al-Jubory believed the world needed to know what life was like under the Islamic State. He barely got out alive.
- BY DAVID KENNER
- JANUARY 2, 2017
Omar al-Jubory began his career as a journalist in the deep end — covering the most dangerous story in the world. The 27-year-old resident of Mosul, employed as a social worker for women and children, watched in shock as the Islamic State took over his city in the summer of 2014. Then he got to work, operating undercover within Mosul to build a network of sources that provided him with information on the Islamic State’s brutal reign in his hometown.
Journalists like Jubory have been the world’s sole source of information about life in Mosul over the last two and a half years. Anonymous blogs likeMosul Eye have revealed glimpses of a city held in an iron grip by the Islamic State, recently describing new restrictions imposed by the jihadi group that curb civilians’ movement to prevent them from fleeing to liberated areas. Their accounts paint a portrait of a city ruled by an totalitarian regime — one with a feared network of intelligence agents and enforcers who aim to control every aspect of citizens’ lives, from the clothes they wear to the information they receive
Over the course of three telephone interviews, Jubory described matter-of-factly his work in Islamic State-occupied Mosul and how it almost cost him his life. He first worked for the pan-Arab newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi, cataloguing the daily crimes by the Islamic State, and then began selling his work to BBC News. He even was interviewed on BBC once about the group’s use of torture and how it had transformed the syllabus in schools to promote violence. He charged between $200 and $500 for filmed scenes within Mosul, he said, and $50 for a written report. He didn’t work for material gain, he told Foreign Policy: “I just needed the money to sustain myself.”
Jubory painted a picture of a population beaten into submission by the Islamic State, which he refers to pejoratively by its Arabic acronym, Daesh.