Dr. Khaled Al-Assad was murdered August 18th at the hands of ISIS. (We do not know if Al-Assad held a doctorate or its equivalent, but we feel that regardless, he is deserving of the honor.) Dr. Al-Assad was 81 (82? sources disagree) years old. Dr. Al-Assad was the world’s authority on Palmyra, the ancient city in Syria that is one of the best preserved ancient cities and is a UNSECO World Heritage Site. He served as director of antiquities of Palmyra from 1961-2003.
When it became clear that Palmyra would fall to ISIS, the local population scrambled to remove as much of the portable antiques out of the historic site as quickly as they could. It is reminiscent of the Parisian population clearing out the Louvre before the Nazi occupation. Because of Syrian efforts, many of the antiquities were removed and put into hiding. Their location is a complete secret. Right now, one of the greatest sources of funding for ISIS is its sale of looted antiquities on the black market. (Sorry Mr. Trump, it’s not oil, although oil is an issue.)
ISIS arrested Dr. Al-Assad about a month ago. Their sole goal was to find out from him the hiding places of the Palmyian antiques. We do not know what they did to him to try and extract this information. But as far as we know, he divulged no secrets. His beloved antiquities remain in hiding, and away from those who would destroy world history because it disagrees with their warped Weltanschauung. He was beheaded, and his remains were hung off of a Roman column in the main square of Palmyra.
Our greatest sympathies go out to his family.