An Iraqi newspaper is reporting that three women in Mosul had their hands chopped off by the Islamic State as punishment for an unspecified crime. During the same public punishment event, held on a "celebration stage" in the town's center, five men were reportedly flogged for using their cellphones to contact relatives.
The maiming of the women and flogging of the men reportedly took place on Thursday, according to Iraqi News, an English language paper, citing an anonymous source in the Nineveh province. It was quickly overshadowed by an even more brutal crime, the execution of 21 Coptic Christians kidnapped in Libya. But the torture of citizens in Mosul shows the extent to which ISIS continues to crack down on even the most ordinary activities: cellphone towers in Mosul were reportedly shut down in November, and sources inside the province have told various news outlets that anyone caught using a phone would be flogged 30 times.
The United Nations said in September they had received "numerous" reports of women being executed in Mosul and other ISIS-controlled areas, "some after perfunctory 'trials.'" (One of the most public was the kidnapping and murder by firing squad of Sameera Salih Ali al-Nuaimy, a prominent attorney who had denounced ISIS on Facebook.) Cutting off hands is considered an appropriate punishment for theft by some extremist groups, although it's not clear that's what the women were accused of. A woman who claims to be affiliated with ISIS and tweets frequent propaganda on their behalf dismissed the reports, saying that muhajirah (female ISIS members) could still tweet:
Kurdish fighters attempted to take Mosul this weekend and are still battling ISIS at the city's outer edges. A Daily Beast reporter in Iraq says that the Kurdish fighters posed for selfies with the ISIS fighters they managed to kill, "some snapping photos with their phones while others spit into the wounds and gashes of the dead."
Pro-ISIS demonstrators march through Mosul, June 2014. Photo via AP