Category Archives: ISIS

The Ancient City of Palmyra Post ISIS Destruction

Palmyra statues Before ISIS Destruction

Ancient places that for centuries stand proudly as proof of man’s ingenuity and determination are true wonders of the world.

The photos in my blog post are proof again, that what was once historically majestic can be destroyed in a moment. The once awe-inspiring Palmyra, a 2,000-year-old Unesco World Heritage site, contained some of the best-preserved Roman-era ruins in the world.

Below are before ISIS and after ISIS photos of Palmyra. A picture is indeed worth a thousand heartbreaking words.

Palmyra Citadel Before ISIS Destruction
Palmyra’s Citadel before ISIS

This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows damage to the Palmyra citadel following fighting between Government forces and Islamic State group militants in Palmyra, Syria, Sunday, March 27, 2016. Syrian state media and an opposition monitoring group say government forces backed by Russian airstrikes have driven Islamic State fighters from the historic central town of Palmyra, held by the extremists since May. (SANA via AP)
Palmyra’s Citadel after ISIS

Palmyra The Temple of Bel - November 2004
Palmyra’s Temple of Bel before ISIS

Palmyra ISIS Blowing Up Palmyra
ISIS blowing up the Temple of Bel

Palmyra ISIS Blew up tomb of Mohammed Bin Ali
Palmyra’s Tomb of Mohammed Bin Ali before ISIS


Tomb of Mohammed Bin Ali after ISIS


Khalid al-Asaad the Man vs. Cecil the Lion. Where’s the Outrage?

The killing of Cecil the lion—in which a Minnesota dentist, Walter J. Palmer, lured him out of a Zimbabwe sanctuary, and then beheaded him—has incensed people all over the world.

Well, now it’s time for people all over the world to be outraged over the slaughtering and beheading of the eighty-three-year-old caretaker of Palmyra’s antiquities, and home to some of Syria’s greatest archaeological treasures.

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After detaining the Syrian scholar for weeks, the jihadists dragged him to a public square on Tuesday and cut off his head in front of a crowd. His blood-soaked body was then suspended with red twine by his wrists and hung from a traffic light. The jihadists placed Mr. Asaad’s head on the ground between his feet, his glasses still resting on his face.

His body was then taken to Palmyra’s archaeological site and strapped from one of the ancient Roman columns. A white placard with red writing was affixed to Mr. Assad’s waist listing his alleged crimes, calling him an “apostate” and “the director of idolatry.” His corpse is still fastened to the Roman column, rotting in the sun.

Known as “Mr. Palmyra” by many who knew him, he had been interrogated unsuccessfully by militants for over a month regarding the location of the city’s hidden treasures. Mr. Asaad refused to give up the information, and died a grisly death, protecting the same history he had dedicated his life to exploring for over fifty years.

Syrian state antiquities chief Maamoun Abdulkarim had this to say about the bespectacled caretaker: “Just imagine that such a scholar who gave such memorable services to the place and to history would be beheaded… and his corpse still hanging from one of the ancient columns in the centre of a square in Palmyra. The continued presence of these criminals in this city is a curse and bad omen on Palmyra and every column and every archaeological piece in it.”

Before ISIS entered Palmyra, one of the Mideast’s most spectacular archaeological sites, museum workers hurriedly moved many of its most precious artifacts to safer parts of Syria. Some of the larger pieces left behind were destroyed by ISIS. In June, they blew up two ancient shrines in Palmyra that were not part of its Roman-era structures but which the militants regarded as pagan and sacrilegious.

The militants have not yet significantly damaged Palmyra’s ruins. It is believed that ISIS is using the 2,000-year-old Roman-era city at the town’s edge, for protection, assuming that the United States-led military coalition will not bomb a Unesco heritage site.

The world wept for Cecil the lion. Who will weep for Asaad the man?

ISIS Seizes Syrian City of Palmyra: One of the Most Important Cultural Centers of the Ancient World

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ISIS tore through the historic city of Palmyra on Wednesday, and by evening this pearl in the heart of the Syrian desert belonged to them.

When I read the headline this morning in The New York Times, I instantly recalled the article I wrote about Palmyra for—in 2004. You can read my full article from 2004 here: Palmyra: Ancient City in the Sand

The splendor and rich history of Palmyra, combined with my Syrian Christian heritage on my father’s side, was the driving force behind my writing the article in the first place.

What I didn’t know at the time I wrote about this ancient, long-abandoned Roman city, was that Palmyra sits among gas fields and a critical network of roads across Syria’s central desert. Gas fields and road networks are clearly much more valuable to ISIS than the crystal blue sulphurous spring water rising out of an underground channel that I wrote about.

What I do know is that ISIS has no respect for ancient sites, and they have been destroying them at a fairly fast clip. As they have swept across Syria and Iraq, ISIS has been adept at damaging and annihilating ancient sites and sculptures, condemning them as idolatry.

We already know that ISIS has no respect for human life, so destroying Palmyra would be the least of their crimes.

Irina Bokova, the Director-General of Unesco, the United Nations agency that works to protect historic sites had this to say: “I reiterate my appeal for an immediate cessation of hostilities at the site. I further call on the international community to do everything in its power to protect the affected civilian population and safeguard the unique cultural heritage of Palmyra. Finally, it is imperative that all parties respect international obligations to protect cultural heritage during conflict, by avoiding direct targeting, as well as use for military purposes.”