The Anonymous Mosul Blogger Who Documented Life Under ISIS Just Revealed His Identity

"I can’t be anonymous anymore. This is to say that I defeated ISIS. You can see me now, and you can know me now."

Beginning in 2014, when ISIS took control of Mosul, an anonymous person known only as the Mosul Eye started chronicling the occupation of the once-thriving city via a blog of the same name. Now, some three years after Mosul Eye began his blog that caught the attention of millions around the world, the mysterious blogger has revealed his identity. 

According to The Associated Press, Mosul Eye is a 31-year-old Iraqi national named Omar Mohammed. Throughout Mohammed's time in Mosul (he fled in 2015 and was granted asylum in Europe earlier this year), Mosul Eye was one of the outside world's main sources of news about the Islamic State fighters.

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In age when people seem solely motivated by personal gain, it was clear Mosul Eye's only concern was documenting facts and history as he watched his beloved city transform into an ISIS stronghold. "My job as a historian requires an unbiased approach which I am going to adhere to and keep my personal opinion to myself," he wrote on the blog. "I will only communicate the facts I see."

These facts came to Mohammed as he continued to live in Mosul, observing anything and everything he could, and relying on friends for crucial information about the ISIS operation. He meticulously documented what he learned — including atrocities such as the stoning deaths about 500 women accused of prostitution not long after Mosul fell and the below photo taken at the execution of a married man accused of adultery— frequently opting not to share certain details because they could be a danger to him or others.

"I am not a spy or a journalist," Mohammed once said, according to The AP. "I tell them this: If you want the information, it's published and it's public for free. Take it."

And Mohammed's quest for truth was not just so others could learn about what was happening in Mosul. He also sought to protect "the face of Mosul, the soul of Mosul" from extremists who decimated the city, even destroying a library that had been home to thousands of texts, including historic maps and periodicals from the Ottoman era, and ancient Islamic manuscripts.

Now that Iraqi forces have taken taken back control of Mosul, Mohammed, a former teacher, is spearheading the reconstruction of the library. Back in June, he launched an international campaign to collect books from all over the world in an effort to restore the library.

"Voltaire said once, 'let's read and let's dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world'. This is how we will create the future of Mosul," Mosul Eye told The Independent at the time.

A quick peek at Mosul's Eye's Twitter feed shows the city is coming back in more ways than one. As the library is being rebuilt, so too are art galleries and the spirits of the people of Mosul. 

And it's not lost on Mohammed or those who know him that Mosul Eye has played a big role in the survival and now revitalization of the city. "People in Mosul had lost hope and confidence in politicians, in everything," Mohammed's brother told The AP. Mosul Eye "managed to show that it's possible to change the situation in the city and bring it back to life."

Though Mohammed told VICE he would like the Mosul Eye blog to "remain active," he seems to have a broader goal in mind. "Maybe shift toward documenting Mosul's cultural revival and the way young people in the city are contributing to it," he said.

In announcing his identity Mohammed told The AP, "I can't be anonymous anymore. This is to say that I defeated ISIS. You can see me now, and you can know me now."

"I am a scholar," he concluded.

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