The National Museum of Iraq, shuttered 12 years ago in the wake of the country's invasion by U.S.-led troops, has reopened in Baghdad. According to the BBC, the opening date was moved up to Saturday in direct response to a statue-smashing propaganda video released last week by the so-called Islamic State.
The video shows plaster replicas being toppled from pedestals in northern Iraq's Mosul Museum and crashing to the floor, as well as actual stone antiquities being hacked with sledgehammers and drills. An on-camera narrator claims the wanton destruction is mandated by passages in the Koran that forbid worship of false idols.
The video is part of an aggressive media war being waged by Islamic State, especially online and on social media sites, in addition to its brutal military tactics on the ground.
The National Museum of Iraq suffered severe looting in 2003, when U.S. war-planners failed to provide security for what is regarded as the primary repository of important art and artifacts from ancient Mesopotamia, often called "the cradle of civilization." About a third of the 15,000 missing objects have been recovered. Illicit trade in looted antiquities is one of Islamic State's main sources of funding.