Egyptian authorities took to local media outlets this week to reassure the public the ancient pyramids in Giza are safe from any potential attacks by the Islamic State group despite recent threats. Citing an anonymous source in the tourism ministry, ANSAmed reported historic sites in the North African nation had 24-hour security that would prevent any incidents. The pyramids alone are watched by nearly 200 surveillance cameras.
Alarm was raised Tuesday after the Daily Mail published a video purportedly from the extremist organization also known as ISIS. The clip showed the group exploding the temple of Nabu, a 2,500-year-old structure in Iraq, and then revealing its next targets: the Great Pyramid and Great Sphinx of Giza. A fighter on screen says ISIS plans to ruin “ancient sites built by the infidels” and “demolish them with the help of God,” Vocativ reported.
ISIS has previously claimed it must blow up such attractions because they violate the Quran, Asharq al-Awsat reported.
But Egypt’s Ashraf Mohi, the director-general of the Giza Plateau, minimized the threats in statements to the Arabic international newspaper Wednesday. He told Asharq al-Awsat it was “impossible” for ISIS to gain access to the complex of pyramids without going through a security checkpoint.
If ISIS were to destroy the Great Pyramid of Giza, it wouldn’t be the first time the militant group has wrecked a historical site. Last year, ISIS blew up the ancient Iraqi city of Nimrud and used sledgehammers to ruin antiquities in the Mosul Museum. It also destroyed the Roman Triumphal Arch and Temple of Bel in Palmyra, Syria, CNN reported.
The United Nations has long condemned such attacks. “The secretary-general is deeply disturbed by these events and calls on political and religious leaders in the region to raise their voices in condemnation of those unacceptable attacks,” it wrote in a 2015 news release. “The deliberate destruction of our common cultural heritage constitutes a war crime and represents an attack on humanity as a whole.”