(Time) It was almost midnight when Omar Abdel Jabar heard a knock on the gate of his home in the Iraqi city of Mosul. His family froze at the sound of the rap on the gate. It was late summer 2014 and ISIS had taken over the city three months earlier. Late night visitors were rare and the family feared it was militants. Then the knock came again.
Just months earlier, Jabar had lived a relatively normal existence in Iraq’s second largest city. He worked as a carpenter and shared a simple but comfortable two-story home in a middle class neighborhood of Mosul with his wife, son, parents and four younger siblings. His wife had just become pregnant with their second child.
But in June 2014, the Sunni jihadist group ISIS had taken his city along with swaths of northern Iraq. Thousands of Iraqi troops fled their posts as the militants advanced. In Mosul, where the population was largely Sunni, a deep-seated distrust of the army and widespread resentment of the Shi’ite-led government in Baghdad meant the city fell relatively easily to ISIS. Thousands of families fled, but like many other Sunni Arab families, the Jabars stayed. Jabar says his family never supported ISIS, “but we didn’t have anywhere to go.”
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