From the Daily Mail
By John Hall and Robert Verkaik
Senior clerics fighting for the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq have issued a diktat banning pigeon breeding as they claim the sight of the birds' genitals as they fly overhead is offensive to Islam.
Jihadis operating in the group's 'Euphrates province', which stretches from Anbar in Iraq to Dier ez Zour in Syria, told pigeon breeders they had one week to stop the practice or face public flogging.
The announcement isn't the first time ISIS has targeted the apparently blasphemous practice of pigeon breeding - a popular pastime in the Middle East.
Earlier this year it was claimed that 15 boys had been arrested and at least three of them executed by ISIS militants in Iraq's eastern Diyala governate after fighters took exception to their pigeon breeding hobby on the grounds that it stopped them spending their time worshipping Allah.
ISIS' latest ban on pigeon breeding was revealed in an official document released by senior administrators in the group's self-declared Euphrates province.
Written in Arabic script on paper headed with the terror group's chilling black and white logo, the short document begins with a warning to locals who keep pigeons on the roof of their houses.
'All those who keep pigeons above the roofs of their houses must stop doing this entirely within a week of the date of the issuing of this statement,' the militants say.
'Whosoever violates it will be subject to consequences of reprimand including a financial fine, imprisonment and flogging,' they add.
When rumours of an ISIS ban on pigeons began to circulate earlier this year, it was widely assumed that it was related to the birds being used to either smuggle anti-ISIS messages or cigarettes.
However the new document clears up that misunderstanding, clearly stating that the ban is intended 'to put a stop to the greater criminal act of harming one's Muslim and Muslim women neighbours, revealing the [pigeon's] genitals and wasting time.'
Inevitably ISIS calls on its network of spies and terrified informers to ensure that those who ignore the ban suffer harsh punishments - demanding locals report anybody who continues to reveal their pigeons' genitals to the local religious police, known as the Hisbah.
It is likely that those who flout the ban as a one-off will be publicly flogged and fined a substantial sum. Repeat offenders face being jailed in one of ISIS' notorious prison cells, however.
Bizarrely the latest pigeon breeding ban isn't the first time the militants have targeted the practice.
In January the terror group rounded up 15 boys who were 'wasting time' rearing the birds, summarily executing three of them.
The surviving boys' families were forced to pay as much as £1,200 each to secure their release after the group were snatched from their homes in the eastern Iraqi province of Diyala, close to Baghdad.
According to eyewitnesses, the ISIS militants searched every house for the pigeons themselves, stuffing any birds that they found into bags and taken them away to be burned.
Abu Abdullah, a farmer, told NBC News he had managed to get the money together after borrowing from family. Others had handed over jewellery to secure their sons' release.
Mr Abdullah revealed his son had been severely beaten and warned not to keep pigeons again.
Pigeon breeding is a popular hobby in the region, but it is said to be frowned upon by extremist Islamist fighters because they believe it is a distraction from worshipping Allah.
Mr Abdullah, 52, said he was standing beside his son when ISIS militants stormed the family home and kidnapped his son.
He said: 'I asked them why and they said: 'He is not following the real Islam, he must be punished for being a pigeon breeder. This habit is taking him away from worshiping Allah.'
'I begged them again to know where are they taking him, what are they going to do to him. They said he is going to be taken to be judged according to the Islamic Sharia.
'They pushed me, and when my son tried to stop them from pushing me they beat him. Then they put him inside the car and left.