DEN HAAG (PDC i) -On the 19th of April 2016, the broadcasting institution Voice of America published a news article on how terror group IS raises millions from plundered relics. At a Tuesday hearing of the House Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Financing, experts said IS is the wealthiest terror group operating today. The illegal relic trade is a "key source" of some of that wealth, according to Lawrence Schindell who tracks art sales and money laundering in the art world and heads ARIS Title Insurance Corporation.
Even though the looting of cultural heritage was going on before IS took over, IS seems to have 'institutionalized' this activity and operates on an 'industrial' scale. By this looting, IS has raised millions of dollars. According to Professor Amr Al-Azm of Shawnee State University in Ohio, IS considers cultural heritage items as resources to be exploited for revenue. In this way, the (illicit) trade of cultural heritage items seems to be equivalent to the trade of oil, or any other valuable product.
This article underlines the importance of the protection of cultural heritage in times of (armed) conflict. The theme of the 14th edition of the Europe Lecture in The Hague is 'Cultural heritage at risk'. Today, the safeguarding of cultural heritage is more important and complex than it has ever been. There seems to be a strong connection between cultural heritage and contemporary conflicts. Due to 'cultural cleansing', objects that reflect times of cultural diversity and 1000 years of civilisation are effectively being destroyed. This goes hand in hand with oppressing the identity of minorities. This type of war crime is used to spread fear and hatred among a society.
Read the entire article via Voice of America: 'IS Terror Group Raises Millions from Plunderd Relics' (April 19, 2016)
Source: Voice of America