Last week was not the best for ISIS, at least not for the ISIS fighters in and around the Iraqi city of Mosul. As The New York Times reported on Wednesday, residents of Mosul awoke for the first time in two years to find themselves no longer under the rule of ISIS. Men cut their ISIS-enforced long beards, women peeked out of their homes for the first time in years, and children had hope that they might see the inside of a school again sometime in the near future.
Meanwhile, ISIS told its followers to eat just one meal per day—and they decided to call the new rule a religious fast, rather than what it really is: a desperate means of coping with increasing food shortages after intense battles in and around Mosul took out large amounts of food supplies.
Al Sumaria News reported, "ISIS commanders decided to diminish food allotments to their fighters to one meal a day. The move was taken after the militant group lost its biggest supply storage facility in Barttela in air strikes by international coalition and Iraqi army."
But why call starvation just that when you can call it a much more glamorous "fast"?
"Attempting to raise their fighters' morale in face of the shortage, ISIS commanders are reminding the fighters of a food embargo Jews imposed on Muslims during the earliest days of Islam under Prophet Muhammad," Al Sumaria said. Apparently, that goes over better than telling their fighters that Iraqi security forces, assisted by US-led international forces, gave them a major beating, and there's little food left.
"Islamic State fighters are also pleading to local residents through mosques' loudspeakers to donate food to them," Al Sumaria alleged.
It seems unlikely that local residents will look kindly on the fighters, given the jubilation that is being reported in Mosul now that ISIS is gone. According to the Times, residents of Mosul were able to smoke a cigarette and carry a cell phone for the first time in two years—and they were pretty pleased.
"We are very, very happy," one man—whose reaction was supposedly representative of many—told the Times. "Now we have our freedom." He said the Islamic State had "asked us to implement religion. But they had nothing to do with religion."
ISIS may have "nothing to do with religion," but the organization is not above using the guise of religion to accomplish what it wants—including attempts to convince its followers to eat less.
Starvation or fast?
Well, if it's out of necessity, it's probably not a fast.