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Funding the ‘Islamic State’: looting antiquities and the international black market
reportposted on 20.07.2015, 00:00 authored by Benjamin IsakhanBenjamin Isakhan, A Gonzalez
A key revenue stream for various militant groups across the Middle East, including the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), is the illicit looting and trafficking of antiquities which are sold on the international black market. Various heritage sites are being looted by ISIS and others with devastating efficiency and on an industrial scale. While exact figures are difficult to ascertain, the profits from these looting operations are estimated to be the second largest revenue stream for ISIS after the illegal sale of crude oil. The illicit trafficking of antiquities is therefore financing the devastating advance of ISIS and any effort, including that by the Australian Department of Defence, to defeat ISIS must address this significant issue. More research is urgently needed to understand the precise nature, scope and variety of antiquities looting across the Middle East, the extent to which it is funding groups like ISIS, and to consider Australia’s role in international strategies to stanch this ongoing problem.