ISIS terrorists beheaded a renowned 82-year-old archaeologist and displayed his body in the middle of the ancient Syrian ruins where he worked, officials said.
Khaled al-Asaad — a notable scholar who served as head of antiquities in the city of Palmyra for more than 50 years — was executed in a public square on Tuesday, Syrian state antiquities chief Maamoun Abdulkarim said, according to NY Daily News.
His mutilated body was then taken to Palmyra’s archaeological site and was hung from one of its famous ancient Roman columns.
The terrorists first captured the scholar about a month ago after they overran the ancient town in May. The fighters interrogated him for a month in hopes that he would tell them where the town hid its treasures in a last-ditch effort to save them from ISIS.
It’s not clear if the terrorists ever found the hidden loot but he was executed when he refused to cooperate.
Abdulkarim expressed grief, saying that Al-Asaad’s execution that took place on Tuesday deprived the country of one of its most celebrated scholars.
“Just imagine that such a scholar who gave such memorable services to the place and to history would be beheaded … and his corpse still hanging from one of the ancient columns in the center of a square in Palmyra,” Abdulkarim said, adding that Al-Asaad was “one of the most important pioneers in Syrian archaeology in the 20th century.”
Al-Asaad had been in charge of Palmyra’s archaeological site until 2003, when he retired. After retiring, he worked as an expert on the site with the Antiquities and Museums Department.
Since falling to ISIS, Palmyra’s ancient site has remained intact but the militants destroyed a lion statue in the town dating back to the 2nd century. The statue, discovered in 1975, had stood at the gates of the town museum, and had been placed inside a metal box to protect it from damage.
In early July, the Islamic State released a video showing the young ISIS members killing 25 captured government soldiers in Palmyra’s amphitheater as hundreds of people watched.