The book features a series of articles by Iraqi journalist Nawzat Shamdin and is the first book published in Iraq about the atrocities carried out by ISIS/Daesh, rejecting their intentions, and warning the world of the dangers posed by the organisation.
Nawzat Shamdin was able to flee Mosul only a few months before ISIS marched into Mosul in June 2014. He had been a target of fundamental Islamic groups for many years because of his journalistic work, and had survived several attempts on his life before he came to Skien in Norway in March 2014 with the help of the ICORN programme.
- When I came to Norway, many thought I would stop writing about armed groups. Yes, I am safe, but I am not silent, says Nawzat Shamdin. I kept on publishing articles in the Iraqi current affairs website Niqash, based in Berlin, and other platforms, particularly after the occupation of Mosul 10 June 2014.
Thaker Al-Ali was Shamdin’s friend. He was a publisher and sold books in Mosul, and he had a library called Arabic Generation. Shamdin says that one day in October of the same year of the occupation, Thaker Al-Ali contacted him via Messenger. He told Shamdin that he wanted to collect his articles in a book and distribute it to the people of Mosul for them to know the truth about Daesh. Shamdin told him “but they are criminals and they can do anything to you”. Al-Ali didn’t care. “They occupy our city and we have to resist!” he said.
Shamdin forwarded his collection of articles to his friend in Mosul. Shortly after, Thaker Al-Ali sent him the book cover with the image of an old door and the Old Bridge in Mosul. The title of the book is Stories of Terror-Stories from Mosul. The original title in Arabic reads something like Returning to the old bridge, and expresses a wish, or an expectation, that Mosul will soon be liberated and its people will return and live normally in the city. The book was published in November 2014 and distributed under the table to the citizens of Mosul.
- It was difficult for me to have a book out on the Islamic State’s occupation of Mosul, which I did not dare to talk about in fear of Thaker’s security and life. The press in Iraq and the international press wrote the news about the book as it was the first book on the resistance of the occupation of Mosul by the caliphate.
Few days after the publication Shamdin found that Thaker Al-Ali had been arrested by ISIS. They had burnt his library and he was never seen again by his family and friends.
- I first heard of the terrible news of my friend from social media, Nawzat Shamdin says. I am safe in Norway and I cannot sleep anymore. I was the reason for this. I know it was his own choice. And I would have done the same in his place. But… They killed him and didn’t return his body to the family. It was left it in a big hole in the ground of Mosul called Al Khazafa, where Daesh buried innocent people. His fate is unknown. Like thousands of others who died under the caliphate.
In 2017, IS was defeated and Mosul freed.
- I received many messages from Mosul from people who had been given the book. I announced the book in the memory of my brave friend Thaker. His family, and especially his wife, believes that he is still alive and will return again one day soon. Because he is still alive without his body. This is how she thinks, says Shamdin.
- I talked to Thaker’s son Amir Thakir Al-Ali a month ago. He told me that he was with his father when he printed the book. He distributed it to people he trusted during the last months of 2014. I asked Amir if it wasn’t dangerous. He said: “My father insisted on resisting the occupation”.
The terror in Mosul revisited - a new edition published
In July 2018, two publishing houses in Baghdad decided to republish the book. New articles have been added about the war against Daesh, and on the back of the book, Shamdin has written about the first publisher of the book, his friend Thaker Al-Ali. The publishing houses invited Shamdin to a big ceremony at the international book fair in Erbil, Kurdistan in October 2018, which he was not able to attend.
Nawzat Shamdin is an Iraqi Kurdish writer, journalist and literary critic who was born and lived for forty years in Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, until he was forced to seek refuge outside of Iraq in 2014. Throughout his journalistic career, he has worked for publications such as Ninevah Daily, the dailies Wadi Al-Rafidayn, the Mustakbal al Iraqi, and the Bagdad-based daily Al Mada. He has served as the editor-in-chief for the cultural journal Thaqafat since 2010 and his first novel Half A Moon was published in Arabic in 2002. He is a member of the Iraqi Union of Writers, the International Press Union and the Iraqi Journalist Association, and has a law degree and is a member of the Iraqi Bar Association.
Projects on immigration and radicalisation
Shamdin has dedicated much of his writings to exposing the wrong doings of radical islamist groups in Iraq, especially that of ISIS’ atrocities. His most recent project is called “What is home to you?”. It is a magazine that targets immigrants in Norway and other European countries struggling with identity and belonging in their new environments and aims to inform about other immigrants’ lives in Norway and limit alienation and radicalisation through providing news in Arabic. Shamdin also plans to set up courses for young immigrants about how to navigate social media and train youth to distinguish between true and fake news.
Read also American author Larry Siems’ interview with Nawzat Shamdin published in Granta early 2015.