Week 34: Villain – Islamic State

by Jackie_South on August 23, 2015

ISIS_VillainThis week, Islamic State thoroughly deserves our regular award for the greatest villain of the last seven days

All Khaled al-Asaad was doing was his job, to safeguard the legacy of Palmyra, one of the world’s cultural wonders that dates back at least four thousand years. Ever since Islamic State took over these historic ruins earlier this year, the world has held its breath in concern about the fate of the ancient city in central Syria, which had been a major centre for Assyrians, Persians, Seleucids and Romans.

For doing that, Islamic State beheaded him. Al-Assad refused to tell his captors the whereabouts of the city’s ancient treasures and this defiance cost him his life.

We do not fully know why Islamic State were seeking those artifacts: was it to destroy them, as they have done elsewhere? Or was it to sell them off to the highest bidder to fill their coffers to fund their “holy war”? There is evidence that it may be the latter, and that one of the purposes of their highly publicised destruction of important treasures is to push up the asking price for the stocks that remain.

There is also the sense that this was an anti-intellectual beheading – their holy war is not just against the Assad regime or the West, it is against Reason itself.

Whatever the motivations, the callous murder of an academic who was just trying to act as guardian for some of the world’s historic artifacts for generations to come. His sacrifice marks him as a true hero.

The actions of Islamic State merely mark them, once again, as barbaric, sadistic and cowardly.

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