Editorial: Leveling history

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In 2009, Suzanne Bott leads a tour at St. Elijah’s monastery, in Mosul, Iraq. Bott spent more than two years surveying and restoring the site as a U.S. State Department cultural adviser in Iraq. ARMY COL. MARY PROPHIT VIA AP
ISIS has destroyed an important part of ancient history. Again.

Dair Mar Elia, also known as St. Elijah’s Monastery, was located in Mosul, Iraq for more than 1,400 years. This Christian monastery stood as an important symbol of religious freedom in the region.

Until the bloodthirsty ISIS savages reduced it to a pile of rubble, that is.

Associated Press reporters Martha Mendoza, Maya Alleruzzo, and Bram Janssen wrote on Jan. 20 that satellite photos “confirm the worst fears of church authorities and preservationists — St. Elijah’s Monastery of Mosul has been completely wiped out.”

Sadly, it’s believed that Dair Mar Elia was obliterated in either August or September 2014. The Art Newspaper’s Martin Bailey pointed out on Jan. 20 that, since this event went unreported for 16 months, it could suggest “other Christian sites may have also been destroyed without publicity.”

Rev. Paul Thabit Habib, a Catholic priest in exile in Irbil, Iraq, reportedly said this to AP in Arabic: “I can’t describe my sadness. Our Christian history in Mosul is being barbarically leveled. We see it as an attempt to expel us from Iraq, eliminating and finishing our existence in this land.”

Mr. Habib’s grim analysis is correct. Destroying a holy site for Iraqi Christians, as awful as it may be, is only one small step in ISIS’s master plan: the total annihilation of this religious group in the region.

Then again, it’s no big secret that ISIS has little regard for human life. Its leaders hate Christians, Jews and some of their fellow Muslims with an intense passion. They have committed various war crimes, and engaged in ethnic cleansing. They have murdered, raped and beheaded many adults and children.

In the same vein, ISIS’s destruction of the Temple of Baalshamin, Temple of Bel and Arch of Triumph in Palmyra, Syria last year shows its leaders absolute contempt for the treasures of art and civilization, too.

There’s only way to end this murderous and destructive rampage. ISIS must be stopped.