The Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) continues to purge anything they deem to defy Islam in Mosul, Iraq, which they captured in June 2014. In December, they raided the Central Library of Mosul to destroy all non-Islamic books.
‘‘These books promote infidelity and call for disobeying Allah,” announced a militant to the residents. “So they will be burned.”
The library was “the biggest repository of learning the northern Iraqi town.” More than likely the terrorists destroyed “Iraq newspapers dating to the early 20th century, maps and books from the Ottoman Empire, and book collections contributed by about 100 of Mosul’s establishment families.” After that raid, the militants targeted the library at the University of Mosul. They burned science and culture textbooks in front of the students. From the Boston Globe:
A University of Mosul history professor, who spoke on condition he not be named because of his fear of the Islamic State, said the extremists started wrecking the collections of other public libraries last month.
He reported particularly heavy damage to the archives of a Sunni Muslim library, the library of the 265-year-old Latin Church and Monastery of the Dominican Fathers, and the Mosul Museum Library with works dating back to 5000 BC.
Citing reports by the locals who live near these libraries, the professor added that the militants used to come during the night and carry the materials in refrigerated trucks with Syria-registered license plates.
In January, NPR interviewed Iraqi Father Najeeb Michaeel and Texan Father Columba Stewart who are determined to rescue Christian artifacts. In a safe house in Erbil, 57 miles east of Mosul, the two men stock any relic they can find, including huge piles of books and manuscripts. While in Mosul, Father Michaeel photographed and digitalized as many books as he could with help from Father Stewart’s Hill Museum and Manuscript Library in Minnesota. But an impending attack by the Islamic State halted his efforts. He packed up a truck full of the collections to save them.
“I prepare everything, and take a very big truck and put all this collection,” he explained. “At 5 a.m., I came with a truck. We passed the three checkpoints without any problem. I think Virgin Mary have her hand to protect us.”
In June, the Islamic State conquered Mosul and forced out the Christian population. For over 2,000 years, Christians and Muslims lived in peace in the northern city. The Assyrian International News Agency listed all 45 Christian institutions the terrorist group destroyed. Militants forced all shopkeepers to veil mannequins due to Sharia law. A video released in October showed the terrorists destroying churches in the city.
The Islamic State has also taken to destroying shrines and tombs, claiming that their existence constitutes idolatry. They have also salvaged relics to sell to Western antique collectors. Antique sales pushed the group’s accounts from under $1,000 to billions. These militants control around 4,500 archeological sites. In al-Nabuk, they stole antiques over 8,000 years old, which netted $36 million for the jihadists. Residents and gangs are allowed to loot the shrines, but they must give 20 to 50 percent of their profits to the Islamic State.
“There is no doubt that looting and illicit trade in antiquities is highly lucrative, enough for ISIS to be deeply engaged and implicated in it,” said Shawnee State University Professor Amr Al-Azm. “Stopping this illicit trade in antiquities, therefore, must be an imperative, not only because it is a major source of income for terrorist organizations like ISIS, but also because it is causing irreparable damage to Syria’s cultural heritage.”