‘Infidels’: ISIS Erasing Iraq’s Culture With Destructive Raids on Libraries

AP Photo/Karim Kadim
AP Photo/Karim Kadim

Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) jihadists have been purging Iraq and Syria of its culture and history by destroying and removing thousands of archaeological and historic texts and artifacts.

ISIS militants reportedly raided the Central Library of Mosul and loaded up six pickup trucks with over 2,000 books containing writings on poetry, philosophy, sports, and science, leaving behind only Islamic texts, according to the Associated Press.

“These books promote infidelity and call for disobeying Allah. So they will be burned.” Those were reportedly the words of warning given to Mosul residents by a bearded ISIS militant in traditional Afghani two-piece clothing, according to a local resident who spoke with the Associated Press.

Since ISIS embarked on their political and ideological attempts to create an Islamic caliphate with their capture of Mosul last summer, they have destroyed dozens of priceless artifacts, including the centuries-old shrines of the prophets Seth, Jirjis, and Jonah. They also have targeted the historic walls of Nineveh.

A professor who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of his life told the AP that ISIS militants are determined to change the face of Mosul “by erasing its iconic buildings and history.” He reportedly said that ISIS would come during nightfall and carry the raided materials onto refrigerated trucks with license plates registered to Syria.

These items are believed to have been sold on the black market, in addition to being destroyed. In September, ISIS made millions in profits from the sale of these ancient materials. Experts also suggest ISIS has been making up to $3 million a day through the sale of oil from captured fields. These funds help them further jihadist agendas.

Just days after they ransacked Mosul’s central library, the Islamic militants broke into the University of Mosul’s library where they “made a bonfire out of hundreds of books on science and culture, destroying them in front of students,” he told the AP.

Iraqi lawmaker Hakim al-Zamili compared ISIS militants to the medieval Mongols who ransacked Baghdad in 1258, destroying thousands of ancient works on history, medicine, and astronomy. “The only difference is that the Mongols threw the books in the Tigris River, while now Daesh is burning them. Different method, but same mentality,” he reportedly said. Al-Zamili said ISIS is at war with culture, civilization, and science, noting that they are considered by them to be “fierce enemies.”

The goal of ISIS is to create an Islamic caliphate, a borderless kingdom throughout the world where Islam rules. The jihadist group has declared an area straddling Syria and Iraq as the capital of their caliphate.

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter: @AdelleNaz.


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