ISIL smuggles artifacts through Turkey

ISIL smuggles artifacts through Turkey

ISIL smuggles artifacts through Turkey

Reuters Photo

Historical artifacts have been smuggled from areas controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq and Syria to Europe through Turkey, the Independent has reported. 

In a special report for the British daily, Isabel Hunter met two Syrian traffickers in Turkey’s southeastern province of Gaziantep, currently a hub for art dealers. The men showed Hunter a relief, which was allegedly a Sumerian wall plaque from Lagash, a southern Iraqi city-state dating back to the 3rd century B.C., and could be worth hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars.  

The dealers also had an album of goods including manuscripts, documents and perfumes, all of which could be viewed and ordered through their mobile phones. 

After being smuggled into Turkey, the artifacts are then sent to Europe through one of the country’s major ports, Michael Danti, a co-director of The Syrian Heritage Initiative, told The Independent. 

“Once they’re in the EU, they try to build a legal import status and create false accreditation that says this stuff has been here for a long time with a European family and from an old collection, to make the stuff easier to export,” Danti said. 

The traffickers also confirmed the suspicions of U.S. academics by confirming ISIL has implemented a system of taxation for historical artifacts. According to the report, paying ISIL 20 percent of the artifact’s value is sufficient to receive official permission.

Click here to read the rest of this story on The Independent.