The Things They Carried: The Iraqis Who Fled Mosul
Escaping war and the Islamic State, families took with them what little they could carry — remembrances of loved ones and the past.
Khatab Muhammed Saeed, 15
In November 2016, Khatab left Mosul with his mother, father, and younger brother. The only thing he brought with him was a cell phone he had kept hidden from the Islamic State fighters who ruled over his Mosul neighborhood for three years. “If the Islamic State found out we had a SIM card or a mobile phone, we would have been executed for sure,” he says, sitting in the family’s tent at Khazer camp on the outskirts of Mosul. The family had broken the phone’s SIM card out of fear of punishment by Islamic State fighters and kept the phone stashed away under Khatab’s mattress in his room. “We brought the phone [with us] to call our relatives — to find out who is dead or alive and [if alive] where they are going.”
A version of this article originally appeared in the September/October 2017 issue of FP magazine.