The militant group ISIS is continuing its rampage of holy places by destroying the tomb of Jonah, a place thought to be the burial site of the prophet believed by Abrahamic faiths to have been swallowed by a whale or fish.
Civil defense officials in Mosul, Iraq, told CNN that ISIS operatives planted explosives around the mosque containing the tomb then detonated it remotely on Thursday.
A video posted to YouTube, the authenticity of which has not yet been confirmed, shows the destruction of the Sunni Mosque of the Prophet Younis, which is the Arabic name for Jonah. Though ISIS claims to adhere to the Sunni branch of Islam, they have nonetheless targeted multiple Sunni shrines, blowing up or bulldozing any place they deem "unIslamic."
According to The Guardian, people living nearby the mosque told AP that ISIS members had declared that the holy site "had become a place for apostasy, not prayer." The Imam Aoun Bin al-Hassan mosque was also destroyed on Thursday.
The tomb of Daniel, a man revered by Muslims as a prophet though unlike Jonah, he is not mentioned in the Quran, has also been reportedly destroyed. Al-Arabiya reports that Zuhair al-Chalabi, a local Mosul official, told Al-Samaria News that “ISIS implanted explosives around Prophet Daniel’s tomb in Mosul and blasted it, leading to its destruction."
AFP reports that an anonymous official said, "Islamic State completely destroyed the shrine of Nabi Yunus after telling local families to stay away and closing the roads to a distance of 500 metres from the shrine."
The tomb of Jonah was a popular place of pilgrimage for people who would come from around the world to see it, before the arrival of ISIS in Mosul. At the end of the video showing the destruction of Jonah's tomb, a man can be heard saying,"No, no, no. Prophet Jonas is gone. God, these scoundrels," according to NPR.
This latest act by ISIS shows their disregard for holy places, even Muslim ones from the Sunni sect they claim to hail from. Sam Hardy, a professor at the American University of Rome, told The Washington Post that he believes this shows that ISIS is willing to destroy, "basically pretty much anything in the Bible." He added, “It indicates they are going for total eradication not just of their enemies but even of the possibility of people living together under their rule."
Leila Fadel of NPR believes that ISIS's destruction of shrines may be a big mistake when it comes to rallying other Muslim militant groups to its cause, especially considering that it previously declared an "Islamic caliphate." She said, "it may cause a deep rift in the uneasy alliances the Sunni extremist group has made with other Sunni fighting groups marginalized."