By Kevin Sullivan
…Women must be fully veiled and can be whipped for leaving the house without a male-relative escort. Many simply stay at home for fear of being picked up on the street and forced to marry a foreign fighter.
Hospitals are usually reserved for foreign fighters and are staffed by doctors who have come from as far as Britain and Malaysia. Local people are forced to seek care in ill-equipped clinics, which have expired medications and poorly trained staff.
In some places, the Islamic State has shut down cellphone service and Internet access. Where it still exists, the militants try to control it closely. They have set up Internet cafes that have become centers for propaganda, where recruiters encourage young people around the world to leave their homes and come to the Islamic State. They have persuaded about 200 Americans — some still in their teens — in Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis and other U.S. cities to try to come to Syria. Most were arrested before reaching their destination, according to U.S. law enforcement officials.
Except for religious schools for the children of foreign fighters, schools are generally closed. Militants have confiscated college diplomas and burned them publicly.
“Life under Daesh is a nightmare each day,” said a female math teacher who lives in Mosul, using an Arabic name for the Islamic State.
“We have an unknown future,” she said, asking that her name not be used. “Maybe Daesh will kill us or maybe we will die in the war, or maybe after. What we are going through right now is a slow death.”
The militants have established checkpoints to prevent people from fleeing. But those interviewed said a growing network of smugglers is helping people get away, and they are entering Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and non-militant-controlled areas of Iraq in increasing numbers. U.N. officials said that 60 percent of refugees who have crossed the Syria-Jordan border recently were escaping areas controlled by the militants.
The Islamic State’s propaganda portrays the militants as liberators; one recent video showed armed fighters delivering sweets to a home for the elderly. But according to those interviewed, the majority of residents view the militants as a merciless occupying force, and they stay away from them as much as possible.
“Even if we see them in the streets or in the shops, there is no mingling,” said an activist who calls himself Abu Ibrahim al-Raqqawi, a native of Raqqa who runs a social media site called Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently.
People in Raqqa, he said, “feel like strangers in their own city.”…