MOSUL, Iraq (Christian Examiner) -- The Islamic State has expanded its desecration activity in Iraq from attacks just on ancient cultural and religious sites and relics to include now the destruction of the gravestones of Christians.
Photos published Thursday by the terrorist group show its members gouging the crosses from headstones and leveling the memorials with sledgehammers in Mosul cemeteries. ISIS has occupied the northern Iraqi city since June 2014 when the militants drove Christian citizens from the area.
According to the Middle East Media Research Institute, an organization that monitors Islamist terrorism worldwide, the photos were accompanied by a statement that referenced an Islamic teaching, or "hadith," that allegedly requires the destruction of any tomb and above-ground grave marker because these supposedly lend themselves to a form of idolatry.
MEMRI Executive Director Steven Stalinsky told Fox News that by documenting and distributing evidence of its destruction and desecration of Christian sites and attacks on Christian communities, "ISIS is not only showcasing what it is doing, but is also mocking the West by demonstrating that it is doing so freely, with no one trying to stop it."
ISIS also is profiting financially from its invasion and occupation of territories in Iraq and Syria.
The jihadists have nearly erased evidence of ancient Assyria and have targeted antiquities of other significant cultural and religious communities in their campaign to advance Islamic extremism in the Middle East. But not all historic items are being destoyed. Some are being sold on the black market in order to fund their ongoing terrorist operations.