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The Art World Fights the Islamic State’s Stolen Antiquities Industry

Courtesy Rach / Flickr

Courtesy Rach / Flickr

This article was originally published by War is Boring on 19 August 2016.

Daesh loots ancient sites for profit — and the stolen artifacts wind up on the collector’s market

The Islamic State makes millions of dollars selling looted artifacts on the black market. A few years ago, the world watched in horror as Daesh uploaded videos of its followers destroying antiquities in the name of its ultra-puritanical ideology.

The militants have since wised up. Daesh realized it could both rid itself of the influence of pre-Islamic culture and fund its caliphate at the same time. Black market trade in archaeological artifacts has become quite the industry for the terror group.

Documents seized by U.S. Army Delta Force commandos during the May raid which killed militant Abu Sayyaf Al Iraqi revealed that the group has “established an Antiquities Division with units dedicated to researching known archaeological sites, exploring new ones, and marketing antiquities,” a recent Government Accountability Office report stated.

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