Antiquities Destruction and Illicit Sales as Sources of ISIS Funding and Propaganda   [open pdf - 2MB]

The United States is currently a leading player in the military coalition waging war against the Islamic State Organization (often called by its older name of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham or ISIS) in Iraq and Syria. […] An important part of this strategy is to disrupt, reduce, and if possible, eliminate major sources of ISIS revenue, thereby hollowing out the organization from the inside while it is under pressure. […] [A] less well-known source of funding is the sale of stolen archeological treasures, which is one of ISIS's outrages against world heritage (although other groups in both Iraq and Syria are also involved in antiquities looting on a lesser scale). ISIS crimes against important archeological sites and museums in Iraq and Syria include the destruction of cherished world heritage treasures and the illicit sale of many easily transportable objects. The destruction of such sites has emerged as an important ISIS propaganda and recruiting tool, while the unlawful sale of such objects (and some extremely high quality fakes) contributes significantly to ISIS finances. […] Smuggling small, but extremely valuable items, such as ancient coins, jewelry, glass, statuettes, and other such items, is inherently easier than moving tanker trucks filled with oil across the international borders, and will become particularly important in the effort to keep ISIS alive and relevant as other sources of revenue are eliminated or interdicted. […] Under these circumstances, preventing antiquities from falling into ISIS hands or being sold for significant sums of money has become an international security issue as well as a cultural and moral necessity for the world.

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U.S. Army War College, Strategic Studies Institute: http://ssi.armywarcollege.edu/
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