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Six major ancient sites destroyed by ISIS

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The Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, are on an iconoclastic demolition mode in various areas under their control with a specific focus on the sites of archaeological importance. They have been continuing their war in Iraq and Syria by attacking archaeological sites with excavators and explosives.

ISIS has released several videos shocking the world over the month of presenting the flaming damage caused by them to local temples and heritage sites.

ISIS controls large sections of Syria, besides western and northern Iraq. It’s difficult to stop these terrorists from despoliation and destroying the sites in their command in an area famous as the cradle of civilisation.

The terrorist group has targeted eminent ancient places and also relatively modern tombs or memorials pertaining to other Muslim sects.

Their intentions come across as more of pragmatic or criminal rather than reflecting their self-proclaimed theological conscience.

The archaeological heritage sites in Iraq and Syria are in dire need to be saved before these culturally rich countries lose them completely.

Numerous UNESCO World Heritage Site have also been destructed in and around the ISIS dominant regions.

Sites destroyed in Syria by the militant group

Palmyra

 

http://news.vanderbilt.edu/2015/09/protecting-syrian-iraqi-culture-topic-of-vu-lecture-exhibit/
Image: http://news.vanderbilt.edu/

Palmyra encompasses the monumental remnants of a settlement that was one of the most significant traditional epicentres of the ancient world. The architecture of the city had witnessed the crossroad of exchanges between local traditions and Graeco-Roman techniques.

1,900-year-old Temple was exploded in Baalshamin. It was among the best-preserved monument in the area and it was originally dedicated to a Phoenician Storm God.

Apamea

 

http://etc.ancient.eu/2015/05/05/apamea-syria-roman-ruins-in-warzone/
Image: http://etc.ancient.eu/

This ancient city has been a rich Roman-era commerce hub but, of late, it has become a centre for extortion and illegal trading where antique statues are sold regularly.

These sales of ancient artefacts provide the group with millions of dollars to sponsor their terror operations and remunerations.

Mari

Image:http://eca.state.gov/files/bureau/mari_25mar14_labelsdetail_3.jpg

The city of Mari thrived during the Bronze Age, and it is said to be in existence between 3000 and 1600 BC. Extensive ancient archives are found here, especially the clay tablets that signify early civilisation in the region. Allegedly, the royal palace in the city is now being looted on a regular basis and in an organised way.

Sites destroyed in Iraq by ISIS

Hatra

One of the most important sites of the state, Hatra was the capital of an autonomous kingdom on the peripheries of the Roman Empire but what made it important was its prominence as the centre of trading on the Silk Road.

The city was taken over by ISIS in 2014. The group had then released a video destroying sculptures in the most prominent building of the site.

Nineveh

 

NG Maps. Source: Institute for the Study of War
NG Maps. Source: Institute for the Study of War

The city today, a part of the northern Iraq, was one of the first empires of the state, expanding through the Middle East and regulating massive sections of the ancient world between 900 and 600 BC.

Important sculptures from the city were stored in the Mosul Museum which were damaged during a rampage by the terrorists of ISIS. They smashed the half-human, half animal guardian figures named Lamassus on Nineveh’s ancient Nirgal Gate.

Nimrud

The city was the first capital of Assyrian Empire, detected approximately 3,200 years ago. It very evidently displays the richness of the Assyrian Emperor. It was excavated in the 1840s by British archaeologists.

ISIS is on a rampage to destroy all the remains left behind the Britisher who had sent dozens of its massive stone sculptures to museums around the world, including New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the British Museum in London.

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Image: http://media3.s-nbcnews.com/

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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)