ISIS destroys shrines and mosques, may be targeting Mecca
By Perry Chiaramonte
·Published July 09, 2014
ISIS is leaving a path of destroyed churches, shrines and mosques in its wake as it storms across Syria and Iraq, and has even set its sights on Mecca -- Islam's holiest site.
The nihilistic jihadis, led by self-proclaimed descendant of Prophet Muhammad Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, have already bulldozed or blown up some of the most sacred places in Iraq, and seem bent on killing and destroying anyone or anything that does not measure up to their twisted vision of Islam. Experts say the group, which originally stood for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, but now simply calls itself "Islamic State," has appointed itself the leading proponent of the Muslim faith.
“They see themselves as the last defenders of Islamic civilization and want to eradicate anything that they see as the enemy of Islam, and any Muslim they perceive as compromising with the West,” Yvonne Haddad, a professor at Georgetown University who specializes in the history of Islam and Christian-Muslim relations, told FoxNews.com.
Mostly comprised of Sunnis, ISIS surprised few when it vowed to destroy sites revered by the rival Shia sect. The two main blocs of Islam have been at odds for nearly 1,400 years because of a dispute over who was Prophet Muhammad's successor. The destruction of at least 10 ancient Shia shrines in Iraq has enraged the Shia government in Baghdad, as well as the Iranian regime, also Shia.
But an unverified threat to Mecca itself, the holy city in Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia where Muslims believe they must make one pilgrimage during their lifetimes, was unprecedented. Allegedly tweeted by a member of the extremist group on a since-suspended account, the threat took aim at the most sacred beacon of the Muslim faith.
Mecca, home of Islam's most sacred mosque, Al-Masjid al-Haram, and its famed Kaaba, a cube-shaped, granite and marble building adorned with Koranic inscriptions and priceless relics like the golden rain spout, a purported footprint of Abraham and the black cornerstone believed to have been placed by Muhammad.
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