In a move to enhance security in Mosul, the city administration on Wednesday (September 13th) announced it will be restoring the mukhtar system.
The administration has started selecting a new group of mukhtars, who will each head a village or neighbourhood.
They will be in charge of monitoring newcomers or suspicious persons and reporting them to the security services, and also will be responsible for vouching for the good character of other local residents.
Mosul's local council decided to dismiss mukhtars who continued working in the city while ISIS was in control, Mosul district head Zuhair al-Araji told Diyaruna.
The decision to dismiss them was taken as some "collaborated with ISIS and provided its elements information that led them to arrest and murder citizens who had been in the security services or [government] employees", he said.
The Mosul administration has provided the security authorities with the names of those people, "and some of them have since been arrested", al-Araji said.
Some former mukhtars have asked to be relieved of their duties due to their advanced age, he said, while "others are considered to be missing".
The administration has no information on the whereabouts of these mukhtars, who may have left for displacement camps or have left the province altogether.
Strict new criteria for selection
"We have now resumed the use of the mukhtar system, and decided to select new people based on strict criteria," al-Araji said.
Foremost among the qualities sought in local leaders are a clean security status, integrity, and the ability to work efficiently, he noted.
One mukhtar will be in charge of each neighbourhood in Mosul, he said, with a total of 186 expected to be appointed to serve both sides of the city.
"A first batch of 50 applications have been accepted, by applicants who have passed the security check stage and are waiting for the local Ninawa government to approve their appointments," he said.
Additionally, he said, "the names of 16 applicants have been forwarded to the security services for validation", after which their requests will receive an initial validation.
Recruitment will be ongoing until the positions are filled, he said.
Mukhtars needed 'more than ever'
Al-Araji emphasized the importance of having mukhtars.
"We need them today more than ever before to help security personnel fight the danger of terrorist sleeper cells in residential neighbourhoods and track down suspicious strangers," he said.
The "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) has been known to use sleeper cells -- secretive groups that hide among the population until ordered to act -- to carry out suicide attacks.
The testimonies of mukhtars, recommending citizens and affirming their place of residence, constitute "an acceptable official document", he said.
These testimonies can be of essential importance "when issuing official documents related to births, deaths, marriage agreements, divorce and application to universities and for official jobs", he explained.