Opinion: Illegal antiquities trade funds terrorismBy Matthew Bogdanos, Special to CNN

07 Jul 2011 8:27 AM | Anonymous

Opinion: Illegal antiquities trade funds terrorism

By Matthew Bogdanos, Special to CNN
July 7, 2011 7:28 a.m. EDT
  • The illicit trade in illegal antiquities is little discussed, says Bogdanos
  • Becoming an important source of revenue for terrorists, he adds
  • Bogdanos: Western antiquities dealers complicit in the illegal trade
  • He says: UNESCO must step in to halt the destruction of our cultural heritage

Matthew Bogdanos, a colonel in the United States Marine Corps, lead the investigation into the looting of the Iraqi National Museum while serving in Iraq in 2003, and wrote about his experiences in his book, "Thieves of Baghdad." He talks to CNN about why the loss of these treasures, often to terrorists and insurgents, is a tragedy and why the trade should be better policed.

(CNN) -- The illicit trade in antiquities is a worldwide epidemic on the list with drugs, weapons and human trafficking and yet it is rarely talked about.

While I was serving in counter-terrorism operations in Iraq in 2003 as a Colonel in the United States Marine Corps, I volunteered to investigate the looting of Iraq's National Museum.

From my experience, I can say that the illegal antiquities trade has become a revenue stream for terrorist activity in the region.

In 2005, every single weapons shipment that we seized, whether from terrorists or insurgents, also contained antiquities. These trucks, but also caves, buildings and other hiding places, would contain boxes of rocket propelled grenades alongside boxes containing ancient tablets and figurines.



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