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ISIS isn’t satisfied with destroying modern-day Iraq. They also intend to destroy its history.
The terror group uploaded a video Thursday of men smashing statues, pulling artifacts from walls and attacking Mosul antiquities with sledgehammers and power tools. To justify their violence, ISIS classified all these representations of man and beast as idols. Some of the irreplaceable works date back to the 7th century B.C.
Here is video of the iconoclasts in action, provided by Tunisian news agency Al-jarida.
“The Prophet ordered us to get rid of statues and relics, and his companions did the same when they conquered countries after him,” an unidentified man said in the video.
The smashed articles appeared to come from an antiquities museum in Mosul, the northern city which was overrun by Islamic State last June, a former employee at the museum told Reuters.
The militants shoved stone statues off their plinths, shattering them on the floor, and one man applied an electric drill to a large winged bull. The video showed a large exhibition room strewn with dismembered statues, and Islamic songs played in the background.
Lamia al-Gailani, an Iraqi archaeologist and associate fellow at the London-based Institute of Archaeology, said the militants had wreaked untold damage. “It’s not only Iraq’s heritage: it’s the whole world’s,” she said.
“They are priceless, unique. It’s unbelievable. I don’t want to be Iraqi any more,” she said, comparing the episode to the dynamiting of the Bamiyan Buddhas by the Afghan Taliban in 2001.
As well as Assyrian statues of winged bulls from the Mesopotamian cities of Nineveh and Nimrud, Gailani said the Islamic State hardliners appeared to have destroyed statues from Hatra, a Hellenistic-Parthian city in northern Iraq dating back around 2,000 years.
Axel Plathe, the director of UNESCO’s Iraq office, said ISIS’ continuing crimes were an attempt “to destroy the identity of an entire people.”
Statuary isn’t the Islamists’ only target in Mosul. Last week, ISIS sacked the city’s library and burned more than 100,000 historic manuscripts and documents. Many residents tried to prevent the destruction, only to see their invaluable collection set ablaze. Afterwards, terrorists blew up the building.
What strikes me about these fanatics is how incredibly insecure they are about their beliefs. They claim to be the most faithful among us, yet still believe their god is so frail that he’s offended by hunks of stone and leaves of paper.
If you truly believe in a divine Creator, it seems the best way to emulate Him is to create. Instead, like the enemy they represent, ISIS seeks only to destroy.