Fall of the Great Mosque: Why does the ISIS destroy historic structures
The Great Mosque of al-Nuri at Mosul has fallen and the Islamic State is engaged in a blame game with the US forces over who destroyed the ancient structure. The fact is that the region has lost yet another historic structure and there is no stopping this madness.
Destruction of such structures is nothing new for terrorist groups. The Taliban has done it and now it is the turn of the ISIS. It was a well known fact that the ISIS would go after such structures when the outfit had taken over Palmyra in Syria. It was one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The ISIS however had a different take on Palmyra and termed the criticism against them as the "Age of Ignorance."
Time and again the Islamic fundamentalists have proven that they hate anything that is beautiful, old and has a heritage.
Like the Taliban felt about the gigantic Buddha statues in Afghanistan, the ISIS feels that such heritage is bad as it indicated that Islam was being subdued at the hands of the Christians.
The ISIS had carried out a ghastly act when it destroyed artifacts at Nimrud in Iraq. While to the world it seemed that the only aim was destroying the artifacts a little known fact is that the more valuable items were stolen and smuggled to raise money.
The Taliban too has had a history of destroying heritage structures. The Buddha status in Afghanistan were brought down in a heartless display of aggression. The take over of Palmyra was aimed at destroying the ancient city.
Why ISIS took Palmyra:
There are ideological reasons for the take over of the city. The ISIS says that Palmyra symobolises an age of ignorance. When the outfit took over this city, there was a lot that they wanted to destroy.
The Temple of Baal which is a 1st century AD building represents the marriage of an ancient Near Eastern and Greco-Roman Architecture. The Great Colonnade a street measuring 1100 metres links the Temple of Baal to the West Gate and the Funerary Temple.
This was constructed in the 2nd and 3rd century in stages. The Roman Theatre built in the 2nd century hosts the annual festival at Palmyra. The Palmyra Museum which has several ancient artefacts which are several 1000 years old is also under the radar of the ISIS. Is it just about fundamentalism?
Not really the Age of Ignorance:
While the ISIS made it seem that they are only destroying everything that was created in the Age of Ignorance, the fact remains that smuggling of ancient artefacts is a major draw among terror groups and smugglers.
Mohammad Atta, one of the masterminds of the 9/11 attack had dashed off to Germany to sell artefacts that he had stolen from Afghanistan and the same was used to fund the attacks.
It is a well known fact that the ISIS when it destroys such great structures it shows videos very selectively. Most of the artefacts that they destroy and show on video are the less valuable ones. They however never destroy the valuables which fetch high prices in the market.
The high value artefacts are smuggled out and sold to international smugglers for a huge price. There are maniac antique collectors across the world who are willing to pay any price for such artefacts.