October 15, 2014
‘Kurdish nationalists are alleged to have been involved in the looting and arson of the Ziya Göklap Museum [Ziya Gökalp Museum] and other cultural sites during widespread unrest throughout Turkey, Conflict Antiquities reports’ (artnet news reports). To be crystal clear, I did report the allegation, but I did not accept it. As I noted in the title, ‘the Ziya Gökalp Museum might have been burned by Kurdish anti-Turkish nationalists, but not the Mordem Cultural Centre’.
As I concluded, while we need more evidence to know what really happened, while Kurdish protesters against persecution may have burned these buildings in their outraged protests against the Islamic State, while activists from both sides may have burned these buildings, it seemed most likely that the buildings were burned by Islamists in order to defame and discredit the [anti-IS] protesters‘ and ‘to punish and disadvantage local communities for their disobedience’.
October 12, 2014
Siirt Province Director of Culture and Tourism, Cengizhan Başaran, said ‘our library was set on fire in unpermitted protests. Regarding our stock, nothing remained, our computers, our chairs and our tables burned. [İzinsiz gösterilerde kütüphanemiz ateşe verildi.... Demirbaşa ait hiçbir şey kalmadı, bilgisayarlarımız, sandalyelerimiz ve masalarımız yandı.]‘
Allegedly, a number of other cultural sites ‘were both looted and burned by protesters [göstericiler tarafından hem yağmalandı hem de yakıldı]‘. But the circumstantial evidence suggests that the protesters against the Islamic State’s assault on Kobani in Syria (and against the Turkish state’s inaction regarding the looming massacre on its border) were not responsible for the arson.
October 1, 2014
Within hours of me showing that the Armenian Genocide Memorial Church in Deir ez-Zor had been destroyed by the Islamic State (or factions within the Islamic State) @conflictantiq, the comparison image had been appropriated by abualtidore @abualtidore: ‘[the] Armenian Church in #DeirEzzor [has been] destroyed by #USA Coalition Airstrikes’. (Since then, his account has been suspended.) Others spread that line, including accounts associated with Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) and the Islamic State itself.
September 27, 2014
I’m on the road at the moment, but I haven’t been able to outrun the bad news. I first heard claims that the Armenian Genocide Memorial Church had been destroyed through the Antiquities Coalition (@CombatLooting); then, while I was querying the unevidenced report and debunking community activists’ fabricated evidence, JP (@AgenerationXer) sent me the evidence that corroborated the claims.
September 16, 2014
Since some of Alalam’s false evidence was slightly less obvious than the rest (in the last post), I felt I should debunk it properly. Alalam News Channel‘s photos have been recycled from the documentation of earlier acts of violence in Syria in 2013, Iraq in 2014 and Libya in 2012. I won’t be online much for the next two or three weeks.
September 15, 2014
Ruslan Trad @ruslantrad asked me, ‘is this true? “Islamic State destroys Sufi shrines in eastern Syria“‘ (in Deir Ezzor). I have fact-checked this report, but I repeat: I cannot do this fact-checking any longer.
Miracle of miracles, I actually have a very short period of paid work, for which I am working more than full-time. After that, I will have to work more than full-time on the book. I would dearly love to do this work properly, but no-one is paying me for it, not even the mainstream media that are using my work, and I cannot live without an income.
September 12, 2014
Maiduguri is a city of two million plus people – the capital city of Borno state in north-eastern Nigeria. It was the birthplace of Boko Haram (Western Education is Forbidden), an Islamist group who have long been committing terrorist attacks and annexing territory (including in Adamawa state), who have recently established a caliphate.(1)
More than 650,000 people are enduring internal displacement to escape the brutal campaigns of insurgency and counter-insurgency – ‘tens of thousands‘ of those had retreated to Maiduguri. But now, according to the Borno Elders Forum (BEF), it is ‘completely surrounded’ by Boko Haram. They have closed ‘almost all the roads’ out of city. The BEF fears ‘the total annihilation of the inhabitants of Borno’.
September 11, 2014
On the 4th of August, the Taliban used trucks to commit two suicide bombings against Ghazni Police and the Afghan National Directorate of Security (Intelligence), then launched a gun attack on the sites. The death toll rose inexorably from ten, to twelve, to twenty, to thirty-one, to thirty-three; the number of wounded grew from ‘dozens‘, to 150, to 160, to 200, to 350; and many civilian properties – places of everyday life – were damaged.
September 10, 2014
I didn’t have the time to research this before and I certainly don’t have the time to do it now. At least my instincts seem to have been right: the source of the false evidence seems to have been Turkish news (though they may have plagiarised it from someone else); the source of the unevidenced claim was an Iraqi Kurdish politician.
I’m going to be working more than full-time on other stuff over the next two-to-four weeks, and I’m going to be offline most of that time anyway. After that, I will be working more than full-time to make some minimal progress in my writing on conflict antiquities, which I abandoned in order to fact-check these media and community reports of destruction in Iraq. So, from now on, I simply will not be able to perform such fact-checking.
September 10, 2014
Simon Crook asked: ‘Any info on Baba Yadgar’s shrine (main holy site of Ahl-e Haqq sect)? This [YPG Bim] tweet doesn’t look good [though it may have been misattributed]‘. The photo is real, but of a different site at a different time, and at some point someone knew that, because it was an official Islamic State photograph. Someone removed the Islamic State caption that identified it.
[Update: Do not use this. The reference to Suleymaniyah was a false lead. The Shrine of Baba Yadgar is in Tel Leben - and there is no evidence that it has been destroyed there, either.]