By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
The world has reacted with outrage and suffered the loss of historical treasures and landmarks at the hands of ISIS which has prided itself to be cleansing the region of a cultural history at odds to what the terrorist network considers to be non-conforming to its ideals. We featured such incidents HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.
The raid lends credence to evidence that ISIS is selling artifacts on the illicit antiquities market to raise funds for its operations.
Iraqi officials reportedly stated that the extend of the plundering is unknown in areas controlled by ISIS but believes the high-profile destruction of ancient sites, distributed by ISIS propaganda operatives, is also an effort to divert attention away from the fact that ISIS is selling the artifacts. ISIS also considers some artifacts to be idolatrous but it seems equally important to remove the items via putting them up for sale.
United States Ambassador Stuart Jones stated in an interview with reporters at Baghdad’s national museum during the treasures’ return ceremony:
“This is the first tangible evidence that Daesh [ISIS] are selling artefacts to fund their activities. Their goal is to sell these antiquities on the global black market. Today’s effort represents one success in the efforts to return Iraq’s historic patrimony, but the campaign to return all of Iraq’s treasures continues.”
U.S. Special Forces operators discovered the treasures when they raided an ISIS command center southwest of Deir al-Zor, about sixty miles from the Syria-Iraq border. The raid killed Abu Sayyaf who at the time was an ISIS Commander tasked with facilitating ISIS’ gas and oil sales.
In light of these and other revelations, the international community needs to take concrete steps to curtail illegal trade in ancient artifacts. Such efforts have now not only facilitate the precedent of protecting history for humanity but depriving ISIS and other terrorists funds to further their inhumanity.
By Darren Smith
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