Opinion: How ISIS Funds Terror Through Black Market Antiquities Trade
As coalition airstrikes attempt to curb the expansion of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL), the radical Islamist group is digging in militarily as it is simultaneously digging out priceless and irreplaceable historical antiquitiesundefinedin some cases with heavy earth-moving machineryundefinedwhich it sells on the black market to fund its Caliphate ambitions. By doing so, a significant amount of ISIS assets are out of reach from traditional counter terror finance measures.
Illicit trafficking of all kinds affords ISIS a diverse income stream that many corporations would envy, and a good deal of attention has been paid to ISIS trafficking in humans, weapons, and commodities, such as oil. These illicit funding sources are more reliable and profitable than foreign donor money, and they make ISIS financially self-sufficient. However, although UNESCO recently confirmed that ISIS is trafficking in art and antiquities to finance its operations, the issue has received little attention in the press or in policy-making circles, despite tens of millions of dollars of revenue obtained through such activities