How much the Islamic State earns from the trade is difficult to estimate. Iraqi officials say it is the group’s second most important commercial activity after oil sales, earning the militants tens of millions of dollars
BAGHDAD — Loveday Morris writes: Islamic State militants have provoked a global outcry by attacking ancient monuments with jackhammers and bulldozers. But they also have been quietly selling off smaller antiquities from Iraq and Syria, earning millions of dollars in an increasingly organized pillaging of national treasures, according to officials and experts.
“They steal everything that they can sell, and what they can’t sell, they destroy.”
— Qais Hussein Rasheed, Iraq’s deputy minister for antiquities and heritage
The Islamic State has defended its destruction of cultural artifacts by saying they are idolatrous and represent pre-Islamic cultures. Behind the scenes, though, the group’s looting has become so systematic that the Islamic State has incorporated the practice into the structure of its self-declared caliphate, granting licenses for digging at historic sites through a department of “precious resources.”
“The longer until Mosul is liberated, the more the danger that our human legacy will be wiped out.”
— Amr al-Julaimi, a lecturer in Mosul University’s antiquities department
The growing trade reflects how Islamic State fighters have entrenched themselves since seizing the Iraqi city of Mosul a year ago Wednesday, in a dramatic expansion of the territory they control in this country and neighboring Syria.
“Islamic State has incorporated the activity of excavation into its bureaucracy.”
— Aymenn al-Tamimi, a researcher on jihadist groups at the Britain-based Middle East Forum
The extremist group’s recent capture of Syria’s majestic 2,000-year-old ruins at Palmyra threw a spotlight on the risk that the Islamic State poses to the region’s rich cultural heritage. It is, however, just one of 4,500 sites under the group’s control, according to the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force. “They steal everything that they can sell, and what they can’t sell, they destroy,” said Qais Hussein Rasheed, Iraq’s deputy minister for antiquities and heritage.
“It’s a dependable source of revenue, which makes it very attractive, and it’s surprisingly untapped. Over time, we’ve seen ISIL and organizations like it increase their ability to draw revenue from these crimes.”
— Michael Danti, a professor of archaeology at Boston University
“We have noticed that the smuggling of antiquities has greatly increased since last June,” he added, referring to the month in which Islamic State militants took control of Mosul and large parts of northern Iraq. At that time, militants also seized the ancient Assyrian capital of Nineveh. In a video released earlier this year, the Islamic State showed its fighters drilling off the faces of the mighty stone-winged bulls on the gates of the city. The militants also filmed themselves destroying statues at Mosul’s museum. But many of those items were actually replicas of antiquities kept in Baghdad, Iraqi officials said. Anything genuine and small enough to move was likely sold off or stockpiled by the militants, they said.
Iraq has suffered from years of despoilment of its historic sites, as thieves have taken advantage of instability in the country. The sacking of the poorly guarded National Museum in Baghdad after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 was decried around the world. Read the rest of this entry »
For Beitbart.com, Paul Miller writes: This week, students at DePaul University are being asked to get involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and vote on a non-binding resolution that asks the university to divest from companies that do business in the Jewish State. But for some Jewish students on the Lincoln Park, Chicago campus, the campaign behind the proposed measure has created an atmosphere of intimidation, not free speech.
Rachel (last name withheld), a sophomore at DePaul, explained that the “DePaul Divest” campaign, begun two months ago, has transformed this campus from one that used to be “safe and community-giving.”
“I do kind of feel as a Jewish student that I am being targeted on campus. I feel that a lot of questions are being directed to me and I am constantly on the defensive on campus…”
“This entire campaign and entire sit-in going on in the SAC (Schmitt Academic Center) is totally unsafe for Jewish students and I have had a lot of Jewish students text me and call me today and tell me they are not comfortable walking through that part of our campus, which is really disheartening.”
“I have to defend myself, my Judaism, my pride in Israel every day and it’s getting a little bit exhausting.”
— Ally, DePaul University student, last name withheld
Rachel added, “About two months ago when SJP (Students for Justice in Palestine) started the ‘DePaul Divest’ campaign, I no longer felt safe on this campus and I no longer felt I could be a proud Jewish student.” Read the rest of this entry »