Isis opens 262-room luxury hotel in Mosul

The Ninawa International Hotel has been overtaken by the group

Heather Saul
Thursday 07 May 2015 16:05 BST
Black Isis flags can be seen flying outside the front of the building
Black Isis flags can be seen flying outside the front of the building

Isis has purportedly opened its own luxury hotel in Iraq's second city Mosul for members of the extremist group to stay in while visiting.

Pictures circulated by Isis-affiliated social media accounts show members tending to a well-maintained garden, polishing floors and cleaning windows, expansive swimming pools and two black Isis flags flying at the front of the multi-storey building.

The hotel is believed to be the Ninawa International Hotel, which received a number of positive reviews on TripAdvisor before being overtaken by militants and stripped of its branding. It has 262 rooms, two restaurants, two ballrooms and a gymnasium, among other facilities.

The hotel swimming pool

Charlie Winter, a researcher for the counter-extremism think tank Quilliam, said the propaganda was likely an attempt by Isis to suggest bombing campaigns by the US-led coalition had not managed to destabilise the group or life in territories under its self-declared caliphate.

The hotel is on TripAdvisor

He told The Independent: “I think the message the propagandists are trying to portray is that if the coalition is really causing damage then Isis wouldn't be able to host gala dinners with fireworks at a luxury hotel."

The floors of the hotel are polished

The US-led coalition launched 12 air strikes in Iraq against Isis targets on Tuesday. Mosul was one of the first cities to be seized by the group during its bloody advance in 2014 and bombing campaigns regularly target this stronghold. Isis has suffered a series of losses of late and militants were recently expelled from the city of Tirkit by Kurdish and Iraqi forces and air strikes.

Mr Winter said he believed the hotel was for visiting commanders and dignitaries, although this has not been stated by the group's media arm.

People tend to the gardens of the hotel

The images are a departure from Isis' typical propaganda, which usually depicts buildings and monuments being bulldozed as opposed to maintained. It is furthermore off-message by showcasing luxurious surroundings that only some can afford, a concept more familiar within Western capitalist society, undermining the notion propagated by Isis of an inclusive caliphate that serves everyone who swears allegiance to it.

The outside of the hotel

Propaganda released by Isis often attempts to radicalise and recruit men and women to Iraq and Syria.

People clean windows in the dining area

Elijah Magnier, chief correspondent for Al Rai Media, agreed that the hotel was an unusual move for the group. "It's likely an attempt to present life in Mosul as fine and normal," he said. "But people are not staying in it as they don't have the money to."

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