Rare collection of Christian books recovered after ISIS destroys fake copies

In the Iraqi city of Nimrud, south of Mosul, ISIS militants destroyed the Mar Behnam Monastery, scrawling graffiti on the walls and damaging the monastery’s interior.

The historic site, which dates back to the 4th century, was home to a rare collection of books which ISIS sought to destroy.

However, in anticipation of ISIS militants’ arrival, the valuable books were hidden in a secret location inside the monastery. Fake copies were left on display, deceiving the militants into thinking that they were the genuine copies which they subsequently burned.

A local church-goer, Hazim Yousuf, described what happened before ISIS stormed the Nimrud monastery. “We had known that ISIS would be taking over the Monastery, so the Father smartly thought of the idea of hiding these books and manuscripts and then building a concrete wall over them. He had stored them in barrels… ISIS could not reach these books.”

After ISIS was expelled from the area, the Father was able to retrieve the books fully in-tact. The collection is now held in the Church of Darul Salam in Erbil.

ISIS’ destruction of historical sites and places of worship have been documented across Iraq. The terrorist group caused major damage to a church in Tel Keef, eastern Mosul, after using it as a training base. Famous mosques and shrines have also been destroyed by members of ISIS.