Islamic State video claims to show destruction of ancient artifacts

By Amy R. Connolly  |  Feb. 26, 2015 at 3:13 PM
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MOSUL, Iraq, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- The Islamic State released a video purportedly showing men using sledgehammers, power drills and pickaxes to destroy priceless 3,000-year-old artifacts at Iraq's Mosul Museum.

The five-minute video shows unnamed men smashing the artifacts, some of which date back to the Assyrian Empire from 2500 B.C. to 605 B.C. The IS, also known as ISIS or ISIL, have occupied the museum since last summer. The group said the artifacts were symbols of idol worship and inconsistent with Islam.

"These ruins that are behind me, they are idols and statues that people in the past used to worship instead of Allah," one man said in the video. "The Prophet Muhammad took down idols with his bare hands when he went into Mecca. We were ordered by our prophet to take down idols and destroy them, and the companions of the prophet did this after this time, when they conquered countries."

The video shows the men going after sculptures and statues with hand tools and chipping them into pieces. In some cases, they tipped over large statues, causing them to shatter on the floor. Some men took hammers to a stone winged-bull statue, thought to be an Assyrian protective deity. The video shows the logo of the IS media arm.

Earlier this week, there were reports that the IS ransacked Mosul's central library and burned more than 100,000 books and manuscripts. British news organizations have also reported the IS is smuggling looted Syrian artifacts and selling them to fund their campaign. The items, allegedly being sold in London, include ancient coins, Roman pottery and glass artifacts.

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