Rifaat Hussein, a resident of al-Jura village in al-Tharthar sub-district, south of Samarra, sported a grey shirt which he said he had been forced to leave stored inside a chest for a year.
"I could not wear it because of threats by al-Qaeda gunmen who were in control of the village," the 22-year-old told Mawtani, standing confidently with his colleagues.
The gunmen warned village residents that "anyone wearing what they described as irreligious clothes, such as neckties and ordinary shirts imprinted with words in English or images of international celebrities" would be punished, he said.
Last week joint Iraqi army, police and counter-terrorism forces drove al-Qaeda from the village and its surrounding areas, arresting 21 gunmen and seizing about 1,000 kilogrammes of explosives.
There were dark days in the village when al-Qaeda was in control, said al-Jura mukhtar Abdul Raheem al-Hassany.
"Al-Qaeda members would disappear during the day, and appear at night to terrorise residents by giving out printed statements containing death threats to anyone who might violate their instructions," he said.
"The list of instructions would start with a ban on enlistment in the Iraqi security forces, or co-operating with them, and extends to include not only the imposition of the hijab on women, but also a threat to men for wearing clothes they considered un-Islamic," al-Hassany said.
"According to their instructions, trousers, shirts and neckties are Western traditions that are inappropriate to imitate," he said. "They also banned us from wearing T-shirts with prints, images or words in English, or even names of world-renowned celebrities and artists," he said.
Al-Qaeda members would whip those caught defying their instructions on what to wear in public, al-Hassany added.
At first the group had concerned itself with proscribing the types of clothing women should wear, al-Tharthar mayor Ibrahim Ali al-Abbasi told Mawtani.
But al-Qaeda's fanaticism in applying its extremist ideology extended to imposing a dress code on men, he said.
"This shows that this group was not satisfied with endless bloodletting and murder, but went further than that by banning the simplest freedoms," al-Abbasi said.
"One night, they blew up a shop for modern men's outerwear, to wipe out what they described as a source of decadence forbidden by Islam," he added.
Banning individual freedoms under false religious slogans even extended to children's games, al-Abbasi said.
"Security forces found printed leaflets the armed group was preparing to distribute in various areas of al-Tharthar warning parents against buying PlayStations for their children," he said.
The leaflets also carried threats "of targeting children's primary schools if they did not separate the boys from the girls", he added.
Four gunmen now in detention are facing seven charges of "setting on fire the clothes of a teenager while he was wearing them, causing third-degree burns which disfigured the upper part of his body", Capt. Adel al-Jubury of the Samarra police told Mawtani.
"They had stopped his car on the highway on the pretext he was wearing un-Islamic clothes," he said, adding that the group considered dressing this way an act of sedition.
Area residents "were never more overjoyed than on that day when they saw military vehicles carrying the members of that group, handcuffed and blindfolded, after they had spread death and destruction and restricted people's freedoms", al-Jubury said.