– ISIL Leader Al-Baghdadi Is Mossad Agent Simon Elliot (Veterans Today, Aug 4, 2014)
– ISIS Marches On (Acting Man, Aug 6, 2014):
Destroying Iraq’s Cultural Heritage
The fundamentalist retro-gang that has conquered Northern Iraq has decided it needs to go Taliban on cultural monuments it disapproves of. One of the most recent outrages was the destruction of the tomb of Yunus, better known in the West as the prophet Jonah (yes, the biblical one who spent some time in the belly of a whale). Jonah is one of the prophets revered by both Christians and Muslims, so the motivation is not entirely clear. However, this is by far not the only ancient religious site ISIS has destroyed in the vicinity of Mosul. Reportedly the group has by now destroyed some 30 ancient shrines, churches, mosques and Hussainiyas in the area of Mosul alone. Oddly, this included at least four Sunni mosques, so there appears to be a certain degree of arbitrariness to these actions. Yazidi monuments are of course also on the list of things ISIS destroys whenever an occasion presents itself.
In short, the group is not only killing people that don’t conform to its harsh version of Islam, it is also trying to erase all traces of their history and culture. It cares not one whit how old or unique these buildings and monuments are. For instance, the mosque of Yunus was built on an archeological site the oldest parts of which date back to the 8th century BC. In short, there are buildings in Iraq that have survived 2,800 years of upheaval and strife, but they haven’t survived the coming of ISIS. Apparently ISIS considers all the shrines and mosques it destroys “places of apostasy”. In the course of its rampage it has also burned the books of the Diyala province’s library, so reading is apparently a no-no for ISIS as well.
It should be noted that this rabid interpretation of Sunni Islam is quite a retrogression from Islam as it was originally practiced in the centuries after its founding. The schism between Shi’ites and Sunnites of course goes back almost to the beginning of the Muslim religion. However, although the Muslim rulers of old were expansionist and not at all averse to warfare, were actually relatively tolerant of members of other religions living on their lands.
A tiny part of the traditions established at the time are even preserved by ISIS in a way. It reportedly gives Christians living in the areas of Iraq and Syria it controls the choice between conversion, paying the jizya tax, or death. The payment of this special tax was historically actually not regarded as an injustice, but was rather seen as an attempt to balance the Muslim zakat tax and so to speak create a level playing field. Of course for ISIS it is just another source of revenue.
It is quite ironic that one of the main financial backers of ISIS is finally getting worried a bit in light of all these events: