What he said next clarified his position on what will happen to people who try to undermine a future Islamic State. “We will uproot those who are trying to cause sedition in this land,” he said. “Those who try to cause sedition are more dangerous than the Syrian regime and uprooting them will be even more difficult. And all those who try to cause sedition will be dealt with very severely.”

And so I started to quiz Abu Mahjin about the details of what it would be like to live in an Islamic State—and specifically what it would be like for women. “The woman has rights according to Islamic Sharia,” he said. “She has her rights, but within the confines of what pleases Allah.” Pressing on, I asked him about the rights of women to wear what they like—predictable, perhaps, but foremost in my mind given the fact that I was, by that stage, sweating profusely beneath my abaya. “In time, when the Islamic State is properly launched, we will focus on these details,” he said. “If a woman is unsuitably dressed we will not punish her to begin with; we will advise her on her wrongdoing. But if she insists on carrying on doing what she is doing then we will punish her.”…

At that point our host’s wife came in with a tray of ice cream, and that put us both in a difficult position. Abu Mahjin wasn’t prepared to remove his face covering to eat his, and so he had to leave it to melt in front of him—much to the dismay of the host’s wife. I was torn between offending a very nice lady who’d agreed to let me interview a jihadist in her front room by also leaving mine to melt, or eating it and rubbing it in the face of a man with a gun and some pretty extreme views about women, the West and sedition. My love of desserts won out: I ate mine while he looked at his with hungry eyes. I’m not sure if that annoyed him more than my insistence on asking about the Islamic women’s dress code.