Sunday November 17, 2019

A 2700-year-old Jewish Tomb in Al Qosh at Risk from Islamic State in Iraq

Jewish tomb being at risk of a possible ISIS attack in Al Qosh of Iraq is being protected by the locals and a Christian family has taken over the responsibility of preservation of the site

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Tomb of Prophet Nahum in Al Qosh. Wikimedia
  • The tomb of Jewish prophet Nahum is at risk courtesy of a possible attack from ISIS
  • The 2700-year-old sacred spot at Al Qosh in Iraq faces a major threat which stirs up the locals
  • The history of the Jews in Iraq and the stories concerning the prophet and his tomb add to the antique and religious sentiments of the residents as they carry on guarding the place
  • Assyrian Christian Shajaa has taken up the responsibility of protection of the tomb following the tradition of his family

Sept 16, 2016: A 2700-year-old sacred site is in a danger of an ISIS attack. The sacred place is the tomb of the Jewish prophet Nahum who had predicted the impending doom upon Assyrian dynasty and the fall of the capital, Nineveh. Situated in Al Qosh of Northern Iraq, the sacred synagogue that houses the tomb is on the verge of experiencing the same fate due to the ISIS warfare.

Being located in a distance of only 15 kilometers from the frontline of ISIS, the threat to the holy place is enough to cause a stir among the local residents of the area. They remain anxious with a rising concern of a potential attack on that area. They have sought for help for preserving the holy site. A resident of Al Qosh, Ghazwan Elias, spoke for the locals and stated that with their very limited ability they are carrying on the task of preserving the sacred place.

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The prophet has frequently been regarded as the ‘Elkoshite’ i.e. “of El Qosh” or “of Al Qosh”. Apart from that, some of the crumbling antique walls which are ornamented with the holy script of Hebrew also testify the fact that the tomb is actually of the prophet. It has been heard from local sources that right before the departure of the Jews from Iraq, the sacred spot used to be a much-visited shrine that reportedly saw the gathering of millions of worshippers annually. This adds to the sentiment of the residents and strengthens the motive of protecting the tomb of Nahum.

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It has been reported that an Assyrian Christian, born and brought up in Al Qosh, Asir Salaam Shajaa, has taken over the responsibility of guarding the place with great vigor. Convinced as he is, he claims the remains under the holy tomb are really of the prophet. He was found saying that his forefathers were left in charge of guarding the sacred shrine when the last of the Jews left Al Qosh and since then all the generations of his family have been traditionally protecting the tomb.

Preservation and protection of the sacred tomb have thus been a highly concerning issue. God forbids that the ancient holy synagogue does not come to face the wrath of the ISIS in future as the locals fear.

– by NewsGram Team

  • Antara

    Preservation of that much an old and sacred place is utterly necessary!

Next Story

English-speaking ISIS Supporters Exploit Messaging App

English-speaking Islamic State supporters are refusing to give up

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English, ISIS, Supporters, Messaging
The Telegram logo is seen on a screen of a smartphone in this illustration, April 13, 2018. VOA

English-speaking Islamic State supporters are refusing to give up on the terror group’s ability to remain a force in Syria and Iraq, according to a new study that examined their behavior on the Telegram instant messaging service.

The report, “Encrypted Extremism: Inside the English-Speaking Islamic State Ecosystem on Telegram,” released Thursday by George Washington University’s Program on Extremism, looked at 636 pro-Islamic State channels and groups in the 16 months from June 2017 through October 2018.

It found that even as the terror group was losing ground in Syria and Iraq to U.S.-backed forces, and even as IS leadership was encouraging followers to start looking to progress in IS provinces elsewhere, English-speaking supporters turned to Telegram to reinforce their faith in the caliphate.

“These are supporters that like to fight uphill battles,” report co-author Bennet Clifford told VOA. “What supporters are trying to do when they’re engaging with this conversation is attempt to shift the narrative away from loss and provide justifications for it.”

English, ISIS, Supporters, Messaging
FILE – An Islamic State flag is seen in this photo illustration. VOA

At the same time, these English-speaking supporters sought to amplify their beliefs, supplementing official IS propaganda with user-generated content while also increasing the distribution of instructional material on how to carry out attacks.

“I think it’s part of an attempt in some cases to spin the narrative their way,” Clifford added.

Attraction of Telegram

IS supporters first started flocking to Telegram, an instant messaging service that promises speed and encryption for private communications, in 2015 as social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook began a crackdown aimed at Islamic State’s often violent and gory propaganda.

Since then, IS has been hooked by Telegram’s promise that it will not disclose user data to government officials and by the service’s ability to let supporters organize and share large files, including video.

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“No other platforms appear to have developed the same balance of features, user-friendliness, and basic security that could warrant a new switch,” the report said.

That ease of use has long worried counterterrorism officials, who have watched as IS has used the online ecosystem to help plan and carry out the November 2015 attacks in Paris, attacks on a Christmas market in Berlin in December 2016 and the attack on the Reina nightclub in Istanbul just weeks later.

English-speaking facilitators

In those cases, the attackers appear to have been given instructions from IS officials in Syria and Iraq. But Telegram has given rise to several key English-speaking facilitators who have been operating on the periphery.

English, ISIS, Supporters, Messaging
FILE – Karen Aizha Hamidon, who allegedly worked to encourage several Indian militants last year to join the Islamic State group in the Middle East, is surrounded by reporters after attending a hearing at the Department of Justice in Manila, Philippines, Nov. 3, 2017. VOA

One of them, according to Clifford and co-author Helen Powell, was 36-year-old Karen Aizha Hamidon, who helped mobilize sympathizers from the United States to Singapore to join the terror group or its affiliates.

Hamidon, who was arrested by Philippine authorities in October 2017, has also been linked to efforts to establish an IS province in India.

Another key player, 34-year-old Ashraf al-Safoo, took a different approach before being arrested last October by the FBI in Chicago.

According to the U.S. Justice Department, al-Safoo was a key member of the Khattab Media Foundation, which used hacked social media accounts on platforms like Twitter to disseminate IS propaganda.

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“Much of the propaganda created and distributed by Khattab promotes violent jihad on behalf of ISIS and ISIS’s media office,” the Justice Department said in a statement using a different acronym for the militant group.

While both Hamidon and al-Safoo are now in custody, showing the ability of law enforcement to penetrate their Telegram operations, others are likely to replace them because of the ongoing need of Islamic State’s English-speaking supporters to communicate and find larger audiences.

“While there are a number of disadvantages for Islamic State supporters in the use of Telegram from a security perspective they’ll continue to do it because their balance of outreach and operational security,” Clifford said. “There’s not another alternative at this point in time.” (VOA)