The date was June 10, 2014. Occupation was imminent.
Such events transpired on the outskirts of northern Iraq, where lay the country's second biggest city -- Mosul -- a little under 250 miles from Baghdad.
Many in this section of the western hemisphere had been prepping up for summer's inevitable arrival. In comparison, those living in Mosul had their lives forever changed when the defeat of traditional Iraqi government forces prompted the takeover and occupation of Mosul by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS).
ISIS, with its strict religious values, disregard of basis human rights, and complete lack of morality, has desired to establish an "Islamic State" that follows strict Sharia law. To enforce this, ISIS had gradually increased the violence of its brutal killings, including the executions of several Americans and other westerners. This in turn has labeled it a prominent and extremely dangerous force in the middle east -- as the rest of the world continues to scramble for proper countermeasures.
As of today, Mosul is still the biggest city under ISIS control; and according to some reports, the levels of cruelty are unparalleled: Women are denied basic rights and are forced to abide by a harsh dress code; men are killed for opposing the regime or for not conforming to ISIS' ridiculous religious doctrines; and children are indoctrinated and radicalized under the ISIS school curriculum.
That's not all: According to secretly filmed videos, mosques have been blown up, institutions have been abandoned, and traditional totalitarian practices, including persecution of minorities, intimidation, torture, and city-wide surveillance are the norm. Even typical leisure activities such as picnics are banned under the pretense of "haram," which refers to an act forbidden by God.
Although Mosul's citizens aren't confined to their homes, they are confined to the city -- as ISIL does not allow residents to leave it under any circumstances -- effectively leaving the innocent at the mercy of their horrid oppressors until something is done.
However, recently, we've witnessed a beacon of hope rising amidst the chaos, through the brave journalistic actions of one anonymous individual.
This person runs the blog Mosul Eye, which is dedicated to showcasing the atrocities of the ISIS regime first-hand. As one of the few reliable sources that is currently documenting the happenings occurring inside Mosul, their life is anything but easy. This individual assumes different identities to infiltrate ISIS and procure important information, and as a result, Mosul Eye has become a leading source for international journalists and scholars to obtain any ISIS-related coverage.
Having received death threats from all corners, the author must remain in constant hiding and in fear of their life. Thankfully, updates are semi-common, as the author continues to keep the rest of the world in the know with their blog and Facebook page.
But why? Wouldn't the threat of death prompt one to cease such risky activities? Especially in a city such as Mosul -- in which the most dangerous terrorist group on the planet can freely roam rampant.
Well, it's quite clear that ISIS will go to great lengths in order to silence the flow of information. This is an undeniable fact. However, Mosul Eye counters this with clear-cut journalism -- seemingly almost toying with the oppressors -- with the end goal of taking ISIS down from the inside.
These are two extremes: one using barbaric tactics to strike fear and hate in people, and the other -- to encourage the fight against evil. All this despite being in the midst of enemy territory where every action taken risks imminent death.
But that threat alone isn't stopping the author.
For the individual behind the computer screen, this is a fight that has not only his or her life on the line, but the entirety of Mosul's future as well. Yet this person continues to keep the public informed -- all for the sake of their fellow Iraqi citizens and possibly the rest of the world.
As another kind of altruism that rarely sees the light of day, we're slowly witnessing the emergence of something huge.
The next couple of years shall determine whether Mosul stands again as a proud Iraqi city or become another page for the history books.