CU Denver grad launches pirate radio station to help people in war-torn Mosul

9NEWS at 5 p.m. 11/9/16.

DENVER - In Iraq -- the U.S. backed battle to take Mosul back from ISIL is underway.

The strategy was questioned by Donald Trump while on the campaign trail and now that he's president elect, what happens next is up in the air.

No matter what the decision on the future role of the United States in Iraq, a University of Colorado Denver graduate will continue his fight to take back his home -- the city of Mosul.

"I was in Mosul when ISIL came and I know how it feels when somebody forced you to leave your home, your houses, your people, your friends," said Mohamad Al-Mawsily, the founder and manager of the Alghad FM radio station, which means "Tomorrow" in Arabic.

Al-Mawsily graduated from CU Denver in 2014 with a Master's in computer science.

Just a few months after he returned home to Mosul, ISIL invaded the city and he was forced from his home.

Now he risks his life everyday to reach the people still inside the city through his underground radio station in Iraq.

It's so dangerous: he needs an alias and couldn't share his real name with 9NEWS.

"Of course its very risky. We receive many threats," said Al-Mawsily.

But for him, it's worth the risk to help his viewers, who are also putting themselves in danger.

"When people call us they are taking a big risk as well, they are not allowed to use cell phones in Mosul, so they take a lot of risk to call the station," he said.

Al-Mawsily tells us he was actually thinking about returning to the United States to pursue his Doctorate just before ISIL invaded. 

"When ISIL came to the city, everyone started leaving Mosul. I started seeing people leaving the city and that changed my life," he said. "I felt that's the time to stay and do something."

In March 2015, he launched Alghad FM with one program that focused on news about ISIL.

Listeners could also call in, many wanting to reach out to family members and friends they've been separated from.

"People within the city themselves, they don't know about each other and we help the people somehow to give them some space so they can text us and we can read their messages," said Al-Mawsily.

The station was later able to launch more programs.

It airs news every hour, but also has programs focused on helping women, children and about health.

Entertainment and cooking programs have also been added, which Al-Mawsily says are very popular with his listeners.

"They just want to escape the reality, and they just want to be back to their normality. They just want to listen to music -- to believe there is going to be a better future and better things coming," he said.

Al-Mawsily and his staff broadcast near the front lines -- the areas near war zones along the borders of Mosul.

While they know the risks, they plan to keep the station going indefinitely.

"We share the same motivation that we want to stand for our people inside the city, we want to give them the alternative, we want them to express themselves, we want to be their voice, we want to be sure their voices are being delivered," Al-Mawsily said. 

Copyright 2016 KUSA


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