Shortly after anti-ISIS fighters took back an Olympic-style stadium in southern Iraq, the terror group detonated bombs they rigged to destroy the structure, potentially killing dozens in the explosion.
“Days after the Iraqi army forces regained control of it, the group blew up the stadium, causing dozens of casualties among the Shiite Popular Mobilization forces who were taking the area as a military base,” Abu Yasser, a tribal leader in the city of Fallujah, said.
However, conflicting reports claim that no troops were in the stadium when it exploded.
The Al-Anbar Stadium sat 31,000, and was paid for primarily by Turkish money at the cost of about $97 million. Iraqi officials told the press that they had been using the stadium as a complex for anti-ISIS forces.
The construction of the stadium had important symbolic meaning for the Iraqi people. They viewed the stadium as a capstone to their infrastructure rebuilding project. The blast is highly representative of the Iraqi people’s crushed hopes and dreams for a future of peace and stability.
Officials are reporting that the structure has totally collapsed, and is beyond salvaging.
Previously, Iraqi Defense Force officials claimed they had “cleansed” the complex of ISIS supporters. They did not elaborate on what exactly they meant.
“It seems that it is a very organized, sophisticated destruction of a large structure, which indicates that Islamic State [ISIS] has the wealth and wherewithal to make these rather dramatic public actions,” Jordan Perry, an expert on Islam and the Middle East, said.
“For ISIS, given their strict interpretation of Islam, there are certain things that are considered haram and against Sharia law,” Perry also said.
“I think [this latest attack] is very symbolic of the values that the Islamic State [ISIS] espouses. It is the rejection of international, westernized and organized sports, which to them are a distraction from submission to God,” he continued.
According to Islamic scholars, soccer itself is not banned by Sharia, but many practices associated with soccer, including playing sports for money, are, in fact, against a strict reading of the Koran and the hadiths.