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.

Has the Islamic State demolished four tomb/shrines in Deir al Zor (Deir Ezzor) in September 2014?

Based on information from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), El Balad, Reuters and Zaman Al Wsl counted four sites – two tombs and two shrines – that had been destroyed. el Balad, (Iranian state) Press TV and Reuters published the hearsay reports without any material evidence. Zaman Al Wsl published a photo that it alleged it had received from the SOHR.

Islamic State destroys Sufi shrines in eastern Syria: watchdog (c) Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Zaman Al Wsl, 14th September 2014

Islamic State destroys Sufi shrines in eastern Syria: watchdog
(c) Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Zaman Al Wsl, 14th September 2014

But that photograph does not show the destruction of any such building. Likewise, Alalam News Channel‘s photos have been recycled from the documentation of earlier acts of violence. [I’ve written a detailed post on these.]

Did the Islamic State destroy seven mosques in Mosul in June/July 2014?

Lent.az stated that seven mosques had been demolished, claimed that ‘residents of Mosul who are in touch with international news agencies [had] confirmed the fact [beynəlxalq xəbər agentlikləri ilə əlaqə saxlayan Mosul sakinləri faktı təsdiqləyiblər]’, and illustrated the story with that photograph.

İŞİD Mosulda 7 məscid dağıdıb (c) Lent.az, 6th July 2014

İŞİD Mosulda 7 məscid dağıdıb
(c) Lent.az, 6th July 2014

And the Islamic State did destroy seven mosques in Tal Afar (near Mosul) between the 25th and 26th of June (of which at least some were Shia). But that photo does not show the demolition of any of those mosques.

The Tomb of Abouleish (Raqqa, Syria) was destroyed in late February/early March

That photograph is an official Islamic State photograph and shows a real act of destruction. However, it shows Tomb of Abouleish in Raqqa. Someone removed the Islamic State caption.

advertisement of destruction of Tomb of Abouleish, Raqqa, Syria (c) the Islamic State, 3rd March 2014

advertisement of destruction of Tomb of Abouleish, Raqqa, Syria
(c) the Islamic State, 3rd March 2014

Just because the evidence was false, it does not mean that the claim was false

Regarding the most recent claims, media reports provided no specific information whatsoever, which made their claims untrustworthy. Bizarrely, they appear to have removed the specific information that the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights provided.

[Update (15th September 2014): these details may refer to past cases, not current events – more information soon.]

SOHR knew that the Islamic State has detonated some shrines of sheikhs of the Rifa’i Sufi way in the countryside of Deir Ezzor, namely the shrines of Ayn Ali located in the countryside of the town of al Qureyyi, al Sheikh Anas, al Sheikh al Shebli and al Sheikh Mahmoud al Antaki in the city of al Mayadin which is held by IS. The Islamic State also transfer the remains of Sheikh Abdul Samad al-Rawi to the cemetery of al Mayadin after removing the shrine from al Rawi poorhouse in al Mayadin.

There is no material evidence yet, so no destruction can be confirmed yet, but there is reason to be pessimistic.

Notes

The Islamic State has also been known as the Caliphate, Da’ash, Da’esh, Da’ish, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

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