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THE THREE WOMEN tensed as their taxi approached the checkpoint manned by Islamic State group fighters. Everyone in Mosul dreaded checkpoints; you could never predict what these gunmen might do in their fanatic drive to crush the slightest hint of “sin.” One of them peered at the girl in the back seat, Ferah.

The 14-year-old wore the required veil over her face, but she had forgotten to lower the flap that also hid her eyes. A fighter barked at her to close it. But Ferah was not wearing her gloves, which were also required. If she fixed her veil, they would see her bare hands, and things would only get worse.

She shrank in her seat, trying to disappear. The gunmen exploded, screaming that they would take Ferah, her mom and her sister to the Hisba, the feared religious police who punished violators of IS’s orders. They pulled the driver out and questioned him. How do you know these women?

Ferah felt the gunmen looming outside her window — frightening, huge and muscular, with beards down to their chests. Her mother went pale. A simple drive to a friend’s house was spiralling into disaster.

The Islamic State group turned the world outside into a horror, so Ferah created her own world, making her bedroom into a refuge where she wrote about her life. This is the story of how an Iraqi teen survived nearly three years under ISIS.

This was the new, nightmare world that the Iraqi teen had to live in.

FULL STORY Smothered by the Islamic State, an Iraqi teen dares to dream (AP)

Photo: Ferah (AP/Felipe Dana)

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