Monday, September 15, 2014

Islamic State sells ‘blood antiquities’ from Iraq and Syria to raise money

By Mark V. Vlasic September 14 at 7:58 PM, WashPost

Mark Vlasic, a senior fellow and adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University, was the head of operations of the joint World Bank-U.N. Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative. He is also counselor to the Antiquities Coalition.

As President Obama moves ahead with his plan to confront the so-called Islamic State, all options, as they say, should be on the table. Thus, while “kinetic force” is a likely focus, the terrorism financing must not be overlooked. By targeting one of the group’s funding sources, policy-makers can also help to preserve the history of ancient Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilization. What’s needed is an immediate, multifaceted initiative to curb the sale of “blood antiquities.”

The Islamic State is reported to be the world’s richest terrorist organization, and it has been made rich, in part, by looting Iraq and Syria. The group’s advance has been fueled by the sale of stolen artifacts that are vital to defining the Syrian and Iraqi cultures, which pre-date Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Indeed, the ongoing pillaging of this legacy is a blow to our collective humanity.

As reported by the Guardian, the Islamic State has made millions from its plunder — including $36 million alone from the looting of al-Nabuk in Syria. With antiquities that are as much as 8,000 years old at its disposal, the group needs no state sponsor; it is financing its carnage with the wealth of past civilizations.

(More here.)

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