Shutting Down ISIS’ Antiquities Trade
by David Grantham
ISIS poses a national security threat to the United States primarily because of the resources it commands. The organization boasts an impressive network of revenue streams, ranging from oil proceeds and racketeering profits to money seized from local banks. But ISIS also profits from its lucrative trade in pilfered Roman, Greek, and other antiquities found in Syria and northern Iraq. This lucrative operation presents a national security dilemma because it helps fund ISIS’s international war machine.
There exists a clear connection between those terrorist organizations targeting U.S. citizens and the sale of antiquities. And American authorities have begun to show a greater appreciation for that relationship. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill in June 2015 to address the issue, The Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act. The move came on the heels of the United Nations Security Council’s unanimous approval in February 2015 of Resolution 2199, which requires all member states to actively prevent business transactions that may benefit ISIS, such as illegal antiquities trade. Unfortunately, the House bill consists of broad language and toothless reforms, neither of which specifically map out strategies to stop the ISIS operation.