Antiquity plundering—particularly from violence-riddled Syria and Iraq—fuels a $7 billion black market, and some of that money lands in the pockets of terrorists, say archaeologists and international watchdogs.
“We’ve seen examples of objects originating in conflict zones — with the sale of them funding insurgents or terrorism — end up at your local museum or at your private collector’s house,” said Jason Felch, an investigative journalist.
Terrorists have long been tapping a chunk of the underground relic market. According to the FBI, “fundamentalist terrorist groups rely on looted antiquities as a major funding source.”
In 1999, while seeking to raise money for the planned 9/11 attacks, one of the hijackers, Mohammed Atta, tried to sell a cache of pilfered Afghan artifacts in Germany, reports the FBI, based on accounts from the German secret service.