July 25, 2014

mistake after mistake in Sunday Times report on Islamic State looting of antiquities

Previously, I reported on the Sunday Times‘ claims that the Islamic State was profiting from looting, dealing and smuggling of antiquities from Syria and Iraq, and Paul Barford’s debunking of a key piece of allegedly forensic evidence. (The Interpol/Bonhams case could not possibly have involved the Islamic State.) There are still more questions than answers, but at least there are now new questions.
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July 24, 2014

CONFIRMED: the Shrine of Jonah/Mosque of Yunus (Nineveh, Mosul, Iraq) has been destroyed

The photographs are new, from different angles, from different moments in the process, from different people of different politics; their details match up with the details on other photos and satellite images. Christopher Jones (@cwjones89) and I agree: it’s gone; the Islamic State has blown up the Shrine of Jonah/Mosque of Yunus.
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July 23, 2014

Are these the photos being used to further terrify Christian refugees from Mosul?

On the evening news, San Diego 6 reported an international story that was all too close to home: ‘Local Iraqis worry about family still in Iraq as ISIS ramps up threats.’ After repeated waves of forced migration, there are already more than 35,000 Chaldean Catholic Iraqi refugees (and descendants) in the San Diego area alone.

It was a powerful interview, with a relative of an endangered family, by a concerned journalist. The risk to the community in Iraq is grimly real, and the anxiety of the community in the diaspora (in this case, in the United States) is unimaginable, but they are being subjected to psychological torture through propaganda as well as lethal violence. Incidentally, the paper trail for this report may indicate the source of the “confirmed” rumours of undocumented destruction.

Islamists, do not try to use my research for your propaganda: the Islamic State’s bigotry and violence is all too real.
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July 21, 2014

Ιράκ: δεν υπάρχει καμιά μαρτυρία ότι πυρπολήθηκε η Εκκλησία του Αγίου Πέτρου στη Μοσούλη

Φιλαδέλφεια Χαλκηδόνα έχει δημοσιογραφήσει/δημοσιεύσει ότι οι ψυχανώμαλοι εξτρεμιστές του Ισλαμικού Κράτους/του Χαλιφάτου είχαν έκαψαν την ιστορική εκκλησία του Αγίου Πέτρου στη Μοσούλη.
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July 21, 2014

Yet more bullshit, still no evidence that Saint Ephraim’s Cathedral in Mosul has been burned

I’ve had to add a fourth alleged piece of evidence to my fact-checking post on the alleged burning of Saint Ephraim’s Cathedral in Mosul, because Erbil-based Noor Matti (@NoorBabylon) complained, ‘#Assyrian cathedral burned in #mosul. No international attention what so ever.’
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July 20, 2014

There is no evidence that Saint Ephraim’s Cathedral in Mosul has been burned

So far, there is only propaganda – but there is a lot of it, which is already exploiting three years of real suffering across three countries. It is exploiting people’s concern in order to spread fear and drive ethnic cleansing. Some unfortunates, who are concerned for the endangered communities in Mosul, have shared the first then the second piece of propaganda.
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July 18, 2014

Islamic State urbicide in Iraq: destruction of Shia cultural property and state structures in Bashir (Kirkuk)

JP (@AgenerationXer) tipped me off that the Islamic State had released another brochure of ethnic cleansing/politicide/urbicide. This time, it’s Bashir village, Kirkuk province, Iraq. As far as I can tell, the images are genuine – the release is consistent with the brochure for Mosul, Muhallabiyah and Tal Afar, the targets are consistent with the campaign in Guba and Shireekhan, there are no comparable images in Google’s records, the claims are consistent with experts’ records of violence, etc.
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July 16, 2014

video of “destruction of Tomb of Prophet Jonah” is from at least ten months ago [accurate but out-of-date]

[Update (25th July 2014): on the 24th of July, the Islamic State destroyed the Tomb of the Prophet Jonah - indeed, the entire Mosque of the Prophet Yunus. This blog post accurately debunks a piece of propaganda that claimed its destruction before.]

People with contacts in Mosul continue to report that the Tomb of Prophet Jonah has been destroyed, so there is cause for pessimism (though at least some people in Mosul say that it has not). Nonetheless, the video has absolutely nothing to do with any possible destruction in Mosul. Still, despite evidence (which Christopher Jones @cwjones89, Chuck Jones @AWOL_tweets and I @conflictantiq pieced together publicly, and which Christopher also blogged), despite proof and more proof (via @truthsMaster), and despite explanations of the harm of spreading false evidence (especially false evidence of real events), the video will not die. Yet not only is the video propaganda, it is recycled propaganda.
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July 15, 2014

The Interpol/Bonhams case could not possibly have involved the Islamic State. What happened?

As I’ve noted in an initial update to my post on the Sunday Times‘ article, Paul Barford’s identified an incorrect statement regarding evidence that the Islamic State is looting antiquities.
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July 14, 2014

Mosul: no petrol, no salaries and only two hours of electricity a day – ‘we are dying a slow death’

Lamia Al Gailani Werr has shared more news from Mosul. Eleanor Robson (@Eleanor_Robson) has already tweeted the key points, and the news is fully archived on the Iraq Crisis listserv, but that is unreadable to machines, so I’m going to summarise it here and add some notes. The most important thing is that, so far, all of the archaeologists are “okay” (although, obviously, definitions of “okay” may vary…).
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