Life in Raqqa: Insider reveals how Isis installed its reign of terror

The jihadist group moved quickly to assert its dominance when it took over Raqqa in January 2014

An activist living in Raqqa has described how Isis installed its brutal reign of terror when it established its capital in the Syrian city.

Keeping a diary of his life under Isis, the activist - from a group called Al-Sharqiya 24 - told the BBC's Today programme how the group moved quickly to assert its dominance when it took over the city in January 2014. 

His story is read by an actor to protect his identity.

"It's Friday, this is the day we used to gather in the streets and have long chats. But not anymore. Anyone gathering in public without permission now risks being accused of plotting against Daesh.

"I'm crossing a crowd in a public square, I don't want to join them because they may have been told to watch a beheading - but thank god it's only a lashing this time.

"The offender is one of theirs. His offence, I'm told, was carrying out a homosexual act."

He describes how Isis moved quickly to assert its authority when it took over the city, with one militant telling him off for smoking and asking another man why his wife was not wearing the veil.

Loud speakers in the streets announced public executions.

"I heard loud speakers in the streets saying some people were about to be executed.

"A group of blindfolded young men stood in handcuffs. In front of them a masked man began reading. 

"Hassan, fighting with regime forces, his punishment: beheading. Reza was a media activist, accused of speaking to foreign parties, his punishment: beheading.

"A man with a sword carried out the punishment."


Cursing as he left the scene of the executions, the activist was grabbed by the group's religious police and taken to their headquarters. 

There, he was sentenced to 40 lashes for cursing out loud.

Last month, Isis militants reportedly forcibly removed televisions from civilian homes in an attempt to crackdown on "corrupt" foreign news.

In addition to attempting to stop the flow of information into Raqqa, Isis has also surrounded it with road blocks and searches anyone arriving or leaving, killing and arresting those attempting to flee.