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ISIS Is Selling Syria's Antiquities to the West

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What isis hates, it destroys, and ancient artifacts are no exception. To erase pre-Islamic history, it has employed sledgehammers and drills at a museum in Mosul, explosives at Palmyra, and all of these weapons, plus jackhammers, power saws, and bulldozers, at Nimrud. In one video, a fighter explains that isis must smash “these statues and idols, these artifacts,” because the Prophet Muhammad destroyed such things after conquering Mecca, nearly fourteen hundred years ago. “They became worthless to us even if they are worth billions of dollars,” he adds. So, at the Met, many were puzzled when Andrew Keller, a soft-spoken senior official at the State Department, unveiled newly declassified documents proving that isis maintains a marginally profitable “antiquities division.”


Keller’s documents had been retrieved by U.S. Special Forces, in May, during a predawn raid that killed Abu Sayyaf, a high-ranking isis officer who occasionally hosted Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi at his home in eastern Syria. (He also kept a Yazidi slave and an American hostage, Kayla Mueller, who died in February.) Abu Sayyaf served isis as the director of oil-smuggling operations. The man in charge of trafficking antiquities for most of 2014 was described in a letter between militants as “a simpleton who can’t manage the division.” So, sometime late last year, Abu Sayyaf took on the simpleton’s responsibilities in addition to his own. It was a sensible acquisition; isis manages oil and antiquities under the same bureaucratic umbrella, the “Diwan al-Rikaz,” an archaic phrase that literally translates to “Department of Precious Things That Come Out of the Ground.”

In archeological terms, there are about twelve thousand years of precious things buried in Syrian ground. isis treats most of them as a natural resource, ripe for extraction and profit. A chart found in the raid shows that Abu Sayyaf dispatched investigation teams to identify places “that are anticipated to have precious things,” then licensed locals to excavate the sites with shovels or rented backhoes. Amid Syria’s wartime chaos, this arrangement offered a rare chance for civilians to earn some cash; anything they dug up was theirs to sell, though Abu Sayyaf collected a twenty-per-cent tax on behalf of the “state.” The percentage comes from an Islamic scripture denoting the caliph’s share of war booty and valuable minerals found within conquered territory.

There has been widespread speculation, echoed by government officials, that isis probably sells whatever it can and destroys large, famous treasures as a publicity stunt. To the contrary, the little evidence there is suggests that, on the issue of iconoclasm, isis is consistent. In a document procured by the analyst Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, the group warns of consequences for anyone caught “dealing in idolatrous antiquities and ephemeral statues,” and reports indicate that, even off camera, these rules have been enforced. Keller did not acknowledge that zealotry likely trumps profits, but he did reveal that when American troops ransacked Abu Sayyaf’s home, they found a large number of leftover artifacts—gold coins, silver dirhams, old beads, terra-cotta fragments, an ivory plaque, an ancient manuscript, and heavily corroded copper bracelets—mixed with fakes. Keller also said that a handful of receipts discovered on Abu Sayyaf’s hard drive show that, during his six-month tenure, the Syrian branch of the antiquities division collected at least two hundred and sixty-five thousand dollars in taxes—a notable sum, but hardly a drop in the billion dollars that isis amassed last year, according to State Department estimates.




ISIS is fueling its terrorism by plundering ancient relics and selling them for millions of dollars. The buyers are mostly Westerners who are funding ISIS's terrorism in exchange for priceless artifacts.


ISIS is famous for destroying ancient artifacts. ISIS militants have wielded sledgehammers, drills, explosives, and tractors to smash artifacts thousands of years old. In one video, a religious spokesman declared:

“These idols and pagans for people in the past centuries were worshipped instead of Allah. When Allah ordered to destroy and remove them, it was an easy matter. We don't care, even if it costs billions of dollars.”

The relics, however, are not worthless to ISIS. Far from it. ISIS makes millions of dollars each year by selling artifacts instead of destroying them. Plundered relics are ISIS's second-largest source of funding, just after oil, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The exact revenue generated by ISIS's plundering is uncertain due to the murky nature of the black market. Estimates range from hundreds of thousands of dollars to over $100 million.

The looting itself is nothing new. Opportunists have raided archaeological sites for millennia. But ISIS has transformed this looting into an organized gold mine.

The caliphate controls thousands of archeological sites, as well as numerous museums. ISIS's antiquities division exploits Iraq's and Syria's rich archeological history as if the nations' cultural heritages were a natural resource. The antiquities division issues excavation licenses and levies a 20 percent tax on looting.



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So much for standing on religious principles.

They destroyed replicas, so people would think the real thing was destroyed, so, no one would be looking for them.


ISIS is the Mongol Hoards of today.

The Venetian Conspiracy

As the following story details, Venice was at the center of the efforts to destroy the advanced European civilization of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, and bears a crushing burden of guilt for the ascendancy of the Black Guelphs and the coming of the black plague. The Venetians were the intelligencers for the Mongol army of Ghengis Khan and his heirs, and had a hand in guiding them to the sack of Baghdad and the obliteration of its renaissance in the thirteenth century.



The more things change, the more "they" remain the same.

The Venetian Bankers ran the Mongol's

The Wall Street Bankers run ISIS.

Same game, different century......

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