Perfume
Battle for Mosul: How ISIS went from stinking destroyers to perfumed terrorists. [Representational image]Creative Commons

The occupation of Mosul by the Islamic State group — which is also known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) — and its near-liberation of recent has affected the lives of hundreds of thousands in what is Iraq's largest second-largest city.

Now, as Mosul limps back to normalcy, stories — like that of Hamza Samih — are emerging of how the terrorist group might have implemented and enforced its strict interpretation of Sharia law in the self-proclaimed "Caliphate," but did not stop itself from enjoying the luxuries that were on offer.

According to an Iraqi News report, Samih said the ISIS terrorists, at the beginning of the group's occupation of Mosul, had given him two orders: "Get rid of the perfumes and colourful bras they said were unholy, and set up separate doors for men and women."

He suffered huge losses, but his fortunes would change when the extremists themselves became some of his best customers. "They were the ones with money. They bought perfumes for themselves and for their wives," Samih told the news outlet just days after the Iraqi Army and other security forces, including the coalition forces supported by the United States, drove the terrorists out of the street where his family-run shop was located.

According to the report, Samih said the initial orders from ISIS "almost put him out of business by forcing women, his main customers, to cover themselves in black, not use perfume in public and stay indoors." He was also forced to destroy colourful brassieres that filled a whole rack. Worse, products with prominent English labels were banned. "Only small scribbling was tolerated," he said.

Militants and their 'high-end habits'

However, as the people were forced to shun luxury, the militants took a quick liking to them. The report says: "Some drove expensive cars and stayed in looted luxury villas, according to Samih's neighbours and relatives — voicing a common refrain among residents in Mosul districts recaptured from the Islamic State group."

And some of them, according to Samih, developed "high-end habits." He was quoted as saying in the report: "They went for the expensive foreign brands. Some had four wives." The latter was a reference to the amount they spent on the perfumes, and their business kept Samih's shop going.

Now that they are gone, Samih can expect his regular crowd back. However, his business may take some time to recover because a lot of Mosul is yet to get back on its feet, with some of the poor even going hungry as the price of food rises

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