ISIS Loots History to Finance Terrorism

Severing Terrorists’ Revenue Sources Should Be a Main Priority: NCPA

Source: NCPA

Cracking down on the illegal antiquities trade could sever one of ISIS’ major revenue streams and undermine the solvency of its imperial ambitions, according to a new report by National Center for Policy Analysis Senior Fellow David Grantham.

“As ISIS profits from peddling irreplaceable cultural artifacts, an entire region’s history is being sold off to underwrite terrorism,” says Grantham. “Unlike most of ISIS’ illicit operations, the sale of artifacts has a direct connection to unsuspecting consumers in the United States.  The direct link between ISIS funding and the American antiquities market gives the U.S. government the opportunity to exploit and obliterate that funding conduit.”

The Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act, which has already passed the House and is currently being considered by the Senate, is full of broad language and toothless reforms that leave too much room for unintended consequences, says Grantham. Instead, the U.S. Congress needs a bill which aggressively targets ISIS’ trade with at least the following:

  • A dedicated, international interdiction unit tasked with targeting every aspect of the supply chain.
  • Additional law enforcement for the demand side to prevent the inadvertent purchase of a looted item.
  • Sunset clause to expire within five years so Congress can reevaluate the effectiveness of the bill.

“The illegal antiquities trade is often treated as a criminal operation – not a national security concern,” says Grantham. “This mindset needs to change. Government indifference and customer ignorance here can be as dangerous as premeditated support for terrorism.”

Shutting Down ISIS’ Antiquities Trade