The treasures of Iraq have been repeatedly looted. Historical and artistic artifacts that span centuries are gone – obliterated. And the mess continues. Iraqi National Museum Director Qais Hussein Rashid says his staff cannot withstand terrorist strikes or take preventative measures. Terrorists, of course, are not interested in hanging tapestries on their walls; they use these artifacts as income. Known as ISIS or ISIL, the terrorists have proclaimed themselves a new caliphate or kingdom.
We as Iraqis are incapable of controlling the situation by ourselves,” Abbas Qureishi, director of the “recovery” program for the Iraqi Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, told me. It’s not just a matter of the museums, he said. Mosul is in the middle of 1,791 registered archeological sites, including four capitals of the Assyrian empire. “The Iraqi army will be obliged to conduct operations next to these archeological sites,” said Qureishi. The jihadists “will destroy them and say the Iraqi army bombed these sites.”
170 years ago, Senaccherib’s “Palace Without Rival” was discovered, unearthing the city of Nineveh mentioned in the Old Testament. Many of the items in the Iraqi National Museum are of “no value” according to Islamic extremists, since they have nothing to do with Islam. “False idols” are to be destroyed, and a false idol can be anything in human form.
And so, day by day, night by night, the demolition teams and bulldozer drivers of the so-called Islamic State have gone about their work.
First the statue of a beloved local poet and the tomb of a great Arab historian fell to the caliphate’s wrecking crews….al-Baghdadi’s men have picked up the pace, attacking and destroying one Shia mosque and shrine after another. Eventually, locals reportedly resisted by surrounding one mosque and throwing rocks, but that was during the day, and the caliphate just brought back the bulldozer during the night.Then, last week, al-Baghdadi’s men returned to the Mosul Museum. They broke the lock to the storage rooms, and they have occupied the building ever since.
The Bible says Sennacherib’s army was destroyed by the Angel of the Lord, but there is certainly a different fate for that region today.