October 24, 2014

Syria/Lebanon: antiquities-for-arms – have fakes been added to the real deal ‘or is the whole thing staged’?http://www.daserste.de/information/politik-weltgeschehen/weltspiegel/sendung/ndr/2014/syrien-252.html

Paul Barford ‘note[d] the large (I’d guess fake) “Syracuse dekas”‘ in a Russia Today (RT) video report on Relics for Rifles and rightly asked: ‘What’s going on? Have they been added to a real haul of dugups to make it more photogenic? Or is the whole thing staged?‘ It’s a good question and a difficult one.
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October 24, 2014

Is there a conflict antiquities trade in Qurans from Libya via Malta?

A ‘group of gunmen’ looted the Karamanli Mosque on the 7th of October and the Sufi Othman Pasha Madrassa on the 11th; only local civilian protectors saved the Darghout Mosque from the same fate. (At the time, they were said to have taken ceramic tiles, marble architectural elements and the floor from the Karamanli Mosque; but not many details were released.)
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October 15, 2014

I did report the allegation that Kurdish nationalists had burned the Ziya Gökalp Museum. But I did not accept it.

‘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

Destruction during Kobani unrest in Turkey: the Ziya Gökalp Museum might have been burned by Kurdish anti-Turkish nationalists, but not the Mordem Cultural Centre…

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.
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October 1, 2014

There is only one thing worse than not being read, and that is being read (by AQIS and ISIS)

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.
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September 27, 2014

ISIS have destroyed the Armenian Genocide Memorial Church in Deir ez-Zor

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.
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September 16, 2014

Alalam does not have any evidence that the Islamic State has destroyed Sufi shrines in Deir Ezzor, Syria, September 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.
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September 15, 2014

There is not yet any evidence that the Islamic State has destroyed Sufi shrines in Deir Ezzor, Syria, September 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.
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September 12, 2014

Maiduguri city is ‘completely surrounded’ and at risk of ‘total annihilation’ by Boko Haram

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’.
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September 11, 2014

Taliban have wrecked museums in Ghazni, but Afghans will rebuild, again

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 propertiesplaces of everyday life – were damaged.
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