The Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS, is in control of Mosul in Iraq, but the terrorist group is pushing their luck by targeting historic mosques and shrines. The last straw for the residents is the Crooked Minaret.
The jihadists marched towards the 840-year-old tower and the people immediately protected it. From The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH):
When fighters from the Islamic State group loaded with heavy explosives converged on the site, Mosulis living nearby rushed to the courtyard below the minaret, sat on the ground and linked arms to form a human chain to protect it, two residents who witnessed the event told The Associated Press on Monday.
They told the fighters, “If you blow up the minaret, you’ll have to kill us too,” the witnesses said.
The militants backed down and left, said the witnesses, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation from the militants.
The Islamic State, who are Sunnis, stormed into Iraq and acted as saviors for Mosul against the dreaded Shi’ite central government in Baghdad. But the terrorists immediately proved to radical, even for the local Sunnis. The jihadists expelled all the Christians and marked Christian homes with the letter N for Nazarene. They imposed Sharia law and told women to wear full-face veils, not to leave the home without a male relative, and banned perfume. To the horror of the residents, the Islamic State targeted shrines and mosques held dear by the local Sunni Muslims. From SMH:
Over the past two weeks, the extremists ruling Iraq’s second largest city have shrugged off previous restraint and embarked on a brutal campaign to purge Mosul of anything that challenges their radical interpretation of Islam. The militants – though Sunnis – target shrines revered by other Sunni Muslims because the sites are dedicated to popular religious figures. In the radicals’ eyes, that commits one of the worst violations of Islam: encouraging worship of others besides God.
On Monday, the terrorists destroyed the mosque of the prophet Jirjis, which was built in the 14th century over a Quraysh cemetery. On July 25, the Islamic State destroyed Jonah’s tomb in Mosul. The shrine was built in the eighth century BC. Worshippers believe that the prophet Jonah, most famous for surviving being swallowed by a whale in the Biblical legend, is buried there. Saddam Hussein renovated the shrine, and it remained a popular site for pilgrims. The jihadists also destroyed the mosque of the Prophet Seth.
To counter the Islamic State, the remaining residents spray-painted “We are all Christian” next to the any letter N on buildings. Now local tribes are forming militias to fight back. People are writing “Down With the State of Da3ish (ISIS)” in public. Nineveh province governor Atheel Al-Nujaifi said some of the tribes used military operations against Islamic State. He admitted the operations will not kick out the jihadists over night, but it will eventually happen.