"They found a mobile on my nephew," said Fatima, lifelong Mosul resident. "They tied him to a post, poured gasoline on him and set fire to him."
She's not alone. Almost everyone in Mosul has lost someone at some point in the past few years. This place has taken a beating, first from the advance of ISIS, then from the coalition forces that ousted the terrorists and finally from the various explosive booby traps left by ISIS in fridges, televisions and light switches for returning refugees.
June 4, 2014, was the day it all started to go wrong for Mosul.
Armies flying the black flags of ISIS approached the city, and it took them just six days to occupy the governor's office, take control of the city's television and radio networks, and capture the airport. Many policemen and government soldiers simply abandoned their posts and retreated as the militants rolled into town.
Mosul -- Iraq's second-largest city -- was a relatively easy acquisition for ISIS. By June 10, the victorious insurgents were walking the city's streets unchallenged.
A couple of weeks after ISIS took the city in June 2014, the organization's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, officially proclaimed a caliphate from the Great Mosque of al-Nuri. He also took the opportunity to declare himself Emir of the Islamic State and ruler of all Muslims everywhere. It wasn't long after the grandiose proclamations that harrowing tales of Mosul's treatment began to creep out.
Keen to win the propaganda war just as much as the battlefield skirmishes, ISIS decided to turn off the internet. But there was a problem. Most people in Mosul were connected to the internet by their phone's 3G signal rather than a broadband modem, and those phones could still get reception from the cell towers on the other side of the front line.
The answer was confiscation, and to severely punish anyone who disobeyed.
"If they were searched and found to have a mobile, ISIS would take them."
"For years, it felt like we had gone backward. We had gone back to the Stone Age," said Fatima.
The militants went door to door through the city of approximately 1 million on a mission to commandeer SIM cards, televisions and satellites. When they'd expunged a street of their devices, they'd mark houses at the end of the street with green spray paint and move on.
"Anyone who was caught on the phone or with a mobile in their hand -- or if they were searched and found to have a mobile -- ISIS would take them," said Jamal, a 47-year-old shopkeeper from Mosul.
Ali, a 25-year-old mechanic from Mosul, has a story similar to Fatima's.
"My brother was executed for using his mobile phone," he said.
Ali's brother lived in the Wadi Hajar district of Mosul, which was known for its loyalty to the Iraqi army. ISIS would frequently and without warning raid the area, looking for an excuse to murder.
"They gathered all of us in mosques and schools and raided all the houses in the neighborhood," said Ali. One day they found a phone in his brother's house, and even though it didn't have a SIM card, they executed him by firing squad. "They tied him to a post -- not only him, many people. They shot him with guns," remembered Ali.
This reign of fear worked.
For years, most of Mosul was offline and its people ignorant of what was happening outside of their city. They had no idea if their relatives who had managed to escape were safe, and they didn't know if a liberating army was near or if it would ever come.
"We were isolated from the world," said Fatima. "We didn't know what was going on. We used to sleep unsure if we would be alive in the morning. In the day, we weren't sure if we would be alive by the evening. They let us live in horror, fear, destruction, death, illness and hunger."
Others said the same.
"We felt isolated and disconnected from the entire world," said Jamal.
The toll of that isolation and the violence that came with it is clear.
In contrast to the conquest of Mosul, when the fight to liberate the city finally did come in 2017, the battle lasted an unforgiving 10 months.