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Islamic State Fanatics Destroy Mosul Museum

2015-03-16

A few days ago, video surfaced of ISIS personnel entering a museum in Mosul, Iraq, in their recently captured territory, and taking sledge hammers to ancient artifacts on display there.  The men from ISIS destroyed a number of artifacts, some of which may have been copies, but at least one of known seventh-century provenance, a winged bull with a human head, known as Lamassu, a protective deity.

The video documented men throwing statues to the ground and using sledgehammers to destroy other artifacts.  The doctrines of Islam that they follow are said to require them to destroy all such artifacts, particularly grave monuments and religious structures dedicated to specific individuals.

A more understandable phenomenon has also recently been noted: the sale of artifacts on the black market.  The supply of artifacts on the market has increased dramatically of late, and not only from ISIS militants cashing in.  There has also been an increase in sales from refugees forced to raise money for their escape from the area.

The destruction of artifacts is probably a direct provocation to other religious sects, an attempt to provoke an angry reaction that would, in their estimation, be self-destructive.  This callous calculation that making us mad will damage our ability to fight is particularly aggravating.  It appears that ISIS is determined to provoke a reaction far beyond their range of physical destruction.  It is only to our advantage to analyze this reaction in an objective fashion to avoid this adventitious damage as much as possible.

The leaders of ISIS believe it is to their advantage to create an image of themselves as being particularly intransigent.  This is an attempt to terrorize.  This simply fits the definition of terror.  It cannot be overemphasized that terror is in opposition to all uniquely and generally Constitutional values that we, as peoples, hold.  The governments of all nations are vulnerable to the aggression of ISIS soldiers and the destruction of their offices.

The actual level of civilization has been shown to be undermined in night photographs taken over the last ten years of Syria and Iraq.  The bright patches seen widely distributed in the earlier photographs are dimmed or gone in the new photographs.  About ninety percent of the nocturnal illumination that used to exist in Syria is gone.  Clearly there has been a dramatic loss of the ability to light up the human habitations, closely related to the areas ISIS has taken over.

Those who have evaluated the situation have seen that, in captured areas, the technical expertise and skilled workers seem to disappear.  This may have nothing to do with the daily executions that proliferate, especially in areas where minority religions are prevalent.  To raise money, a variety of methods have been used by ISIS financing specialists: kidnapping, the takeover and looting of banks in captured cities, the sale of drugs, sale of crude oil and crudely processed refined products, and so on.   At the same time, the technical ability and even the equipment needed for communication, as well as the power needed to provide illumination, have been lost in some areas and diminished in most others.

It is unclear that recapture of these areas by Iraqi government troops with the assistance of Iranian advisers will lead to restoration of power in the immediate aftermath and for some time afterwards.  Much effort will be needed to restore the infrastructure of numerous towns and cities.

The threat of ISIS cannot be overstated.

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