Surging Extremism Endangers Cultural Heritage of Iraq and Syria

Terrorists Kill and Steal Ancient Artifacts

As extremism continues to plague Iraq and Syria, its effect on the two nations has led to the destruction of cultural heritage, ancient artifacts, and precious treasures.

In his remarks in New York City, Deputy Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken said ISIL’s onslaught of terror in Syria and Iraq does not only focused on killing innocent civilians, but also the extremist groups have looted ancient artifacts and treasures which can be sold through a highly methodical, highly efficient excavation operation to finance its twisted ambitions.

He said ancient coins, stone, glass, and mosaic fragments travel organized routes through black markets in the Middle East, Europe, and the Persian Gulf.

With the kind of business, the profits return to line of the pockets of these extremists-funding more savagery, more terror, and more devastation.

Erasing the Identity of the Nations

According to Mr. Blinken, terrorism has led to the destruction of the Assyrian winged bulls in Nineveh, historic lions in Raqqa and the great city of Palmrya.

“Each satellite image of scorched earth, each photo of barren land that shows what we have lost and lost potentially forever gnaws at our hearts.” – Mr. Blinken

Winged Bull excavated at Nebi Yunus by Iraqi archaeologists.

In addition, the terrorists overran the Mosul museum and used power tools to destroy priceless antiquities.

The single ivory plaque carved by skilled craftspeople from an elephant tusk in the Kingdom of Assyria nearly 3000 years ago was also looted last year.

US and Coalition Mission to Stop the Illicit Trade

With the looting of ancient artifacts, the terrorist group can now use the profit to expand its destructive deeds.

In an effort to stop the illicit trade, US and the Coalition to Counter ISIL have stepped up efforts to encourage international organizations, museums, auction houses, and collectors to take concrete action to both reduce the demand on the world market and cut off the supply.

In fact, the United States has developed Red Lists with the International Council of Museums to help law enforcement officials recognize looted objects.

In addition, the US is working so closely with international law enforcement agencies here in the United States and around the world.

What is the US Initiative to Stop the Trade?

According to Mr. Blinken, the US Rewards for Justice program encourages people to provide information that prevents terrorist acts or helps put terrorists behind bars.

In fact, the Rewards for Justice program will offer-for the first time ever-up to $5 million for information leading to the significant disruption of the sale and/or of the trade of antiquities by, for, or on behalf of ISIL.

The US also welcomes discussions among collectors, museums, auction houses, online marketplaces about collectively pledging to maintain the highest standards in handling antiquities-especially from regions in crisis like Iraq and Syria.

“Refusing to deal in conflict antiquities is both a moral imperative and a legal obligation.” – Mr. Blinken

Daesh Terror In Iraq

The rebel fighters belong to the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham.

The terroristic moves were not something new for the group, known for its insurgency operations in Nineveh and other provinces.

Mosul was the second city to be seized by the militants in 2014. The Iraqi government lost control of Fallujah earlier in 2014.

At the time aggression raged in Mosul, the International Organization for Migration estimated the number of people displaced by violence in Mosul and surrounding areas of Ninewa governorate reached 500,000.

Daesh still appears to receive funding from oil revenue and wealthy donors in the Arab Gulf states.

In August 2014, Assyrians in the US were reporting that ISIS was killing their families and friends in Iraq. WGN TV in Chicago reported that “The largest group of Iraqi Christians outside of Iraq lives in Chicago.”

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.