A newly released video shows al-Qaida-linked jihadists bulldozing a shrine dedicated to the biblical patriarch Abraham in a city in eastern Syria.
Worldwide, there have been dozens of instances over the past few months of Muslims attacking and destroying shrines, holy sites or archeologically significant locations, including in Mali, Afghanistan, Tunisia, Libya and Somalia.
In the video, the jihadists shout “Allahu akbar,” or “Allah is the greatest,” as the construction machine tears down the walls of the Shrine of Abraham in Ayn al-Arous, Syria.
It shows a man throwing an explosive and then declaring, “The heresies that were worshiped besides Allah have been burnt.”
Repeated many times is the cry of “Allahu akbar.”
Then another man states: “The [secret expeditions] will start the destruction of the shrine” and “the idol is being destroyed.”
A report from the Alalam website explained the attackers were al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front terrorists. The group has allied itself with the opposition in Syria fighting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
Alalam reported a radical Wahhabi group affiliated with the al-Nusra Front is seen surrounding and then destroying the historic mausoleum.
The date of the destruction was unclear, as several reports carried differing dates.
But various accounts say Abraham supposedly spent time with his wife Sarah in the town of Ayn al-Arous.
Another Middle East-based website reported a similar case – the destruction of the grave of the “great companion of the Prophet Muhammad, Hijr ibn Adi, in Adra, a small town north of Damascus.”
That report blamed the attack on “Salafi militants.”
In Mali, the London Telegraph reported, Muslims smashed a number of ancient tombs of historic figures even as the International Criminal Court warned the destruction was a war crime.
The report said the region around Timbuktu was seized by Islamic militants several months earlier, and they have been destroying cultural treasures because they consider them to be idolatrous.
ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told Agence France-Presse in an interview, “My message to those involved in these criminal acts is clear: stop the destruction of the religious buildings now.”
There, reports say that the tombs of Sidi Mahmoud, Sidi Moctar and Alpha Moya were among those destroyed.
The reports said the vandals, who were described as being a part of Ansar Dine, an al-Qaida-linked organization, also threatened to demolish mosques.
In Libya, it was reported that Salafists destroyed the al-Andlusi mausoleum in Tajura.
A witness to the attack told the Libya Herald there were several explosions at the shrine, which is about 10 miles east of Tripoli. The shrine was supposed to be protected as a national monument.