New Documents Prove ISIS Heavily Involved in Antiquities Trafficking


Gates of Nineveh: An Experiment in Blogging Assyriology

Ever since ISIS burst on to the international scene a year ago, rumors have been surfacing that the group was deriving a significant amount of revenue from antiquities smuggling. A commonly quoted figure was the the group had made at least $36 million from looted antiquities, which derived from a report by Martin Chulov based on documents captured by the Iraqi Army in early 2014. The figure in fact referred to money made from all types of looting in the al-Nabuk region of Syria, not only the looting of archaeological material.

Chulov was not allowed to keep or copy the documents, which remain in the possession of the Iraqi National Intelligence Service. Many others have pulled large dollar figures out of thin air, including a common claim that antiquities looting is ISIS’ second-largest source of funding. The lack of hard evidence for any of these claims has led to skepticism

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