AS the Sunni terror spreads, ISIS militants are on a mission of a different kind that is as equally terrifying — the hunt for wives.
In the ISIS-controlled town of Baiji, home to Iraq’s largest oil refinery, residents told Britain’s Independent they are most frightened by Islamic militants going door to door asking about the numbers of married and unmarried women in the house.
“I told them that there were only two women in the house and both were married,” said Abu Lahid. “They said that many of their mujahidin (fighters) were unmarried and wanted a wife.
“They insisted on coming into my house to look at the women’s ID cards (which in Iraq show marital status).”
Despite claims by ISIS that its men have been ordered not to bother local people if they are Sunni, the rebels are imposing their puritanical social norms in the towns they have captured, The Independent says.
In one horrific incident in Mosul a woman was reportedly whipped, along with her husband, because she was only wearing a headscarf rather than the niqab cloak covering the whole body.
In some captured towns fanatical ISIS militants have started to impose rules about women’s clothing, watching TV in coffee shops and cigarette smoking.
Iraqi forces are struggling to hold their ground in the face of the insurgent onslaught that has displaced hundreds of thousands of people and sparked fears that the country could be torn apart.
ISIS militants seized the towns of Rawa and Ana after taking the Al-Qaim border crossing on Saturday, residents said.
They then gunned down 21 local leaders in Rawa and Ana in two days of violence, according to officers and doctors.
The government said its forces made a “tactical” withdrawal from the towns, control of which allows the militants to open a strategic route to neighbouring Syria where they also hold swathes of countryside along the Euphrates river valley.
The seizure of Al-Qaim leaves just one of three official border crossings with Syria in federal government hands. The third is controlled by Kurdish forces.
Human Rights Watch has accused the rebels of using children as young as 15 to fight in battles.
It said that ISIS and other radical Islamists in Syria “have specifically recruited children through free schooling campaigns that include weapons training, and have given them dangerous tasks, including suicide bombing missions”.
UN aid agencies are rushing supplies to Iraq to help more than one million displaced people.