The savage nature of the Islamic State was revealed in a bit more detail during a recent interview where a refugee family describes hand amputation, rape, execution, and more brutalities of children in ISIS-controlled areas of the Middle East.
The Al-Saraj family fled their home in Mosul to escape the Islamic State back in July of last year, and are now living in the Dohuk region of Iraq, but they stay in contact with family who are still stuck inside the ISIS-controlled areas of Iraq.
Reflecting back on the way Iraq was before ISIS control, the family says that all religions -- Christian, Kurds, Yazidis, Turkmen, Shia and Sunni -- all lived in peace and harmony with each other. As a testament to this, the 55-year-old father, only known as MS, is Sunni and his wife is Shiite. This would not be allowed by the Islamic State currently.
But that peace and harmony soon ended when ISIS rolled into Mosul back in June. The family's daughter describes in an interview with Rudaw that "the killings and cutting off of appendages have become routine."
These amputations are carried out in conjunction with Sharia Law by the jihadists. "Yesterday they cut off the hands of four kids, ages 12, 11, 13 and 16," the daughter says, as relayed to her from her family still inside Mosul. "One of the kids stole a toy bird, another stole an electric cable."
The older brother of the family also showed off a cellphone video of a young pre-teen boy being executed with a shot to the back of the head. The boy's crime was reportedly stealing food in an area where starvation is rampant.
Since ISIS took over in Mosul, electricity and the entire banking system have been cut off, while necessities like water and natural gas for cooking and heating have become unreasonably expensive.
But MS says that the number of ISIS fighters inside the city is dwindling and the group is facing fierce resistance from citizens who remain. MS reports that the only thing keeping the city of 2 million people from rising up against the estimated 2,000 ISIS jihadists is fear perpetuated by the regular public executions.
"People are like sheep now. They don't have weapons, only knives," MS's son Ibrahim said.
But the reign of terror is particularly savage for women, according to MS's wife, who is an activist and educator for women in the area. "They cut off their hair," she said of those sentenced to death for various crimes. "Some are stoned, some are shot, and some are beheaded for adultery. If the woman has a boyfriend, the punishment is stoning. If she has more than one boyfriend, she'll be shot.
"For Yazidis, if a girl is under eight, nothing happens," she continued. "but if she's older than eight, they force her to have sex with the jihadists."
And as strange as it might sound to us in the West, those who own property in the area value that property above all else, so they're afraid to leave the city and abandon everything they own.
But even in their new home in Dohuk, their freedom comes at a price as the Kurds are suspicious of the Muslim family. The Saraj family has to register with the government twice a month and can't stay out after dark. But they're optimistic that liberation will come to Mosul soon and those living there will be saved.
"People are waiting for liberation," MS said.