Cultural racketeering — the looting and trafficking of art and antiquities — is funding crime, conflict, and violent extremism around the world. This illegal industry often goes hand in hand with cultural terrorism, the deliberate and systematic destruction of targeted groups and their heritage. Currently, Daesh (ISIS) is engaged in both cultural racketeering and terrorism in Iraq and Syria, converting the Cradle of Civilization’s patrimony into weapons and troops whose atrocities destroy human life, culture, and history.
But Daesh is not alone: By purchasing an Egyptian papyrus, a Cambodian statue, or a Mayan vase on Madison Avenue, collectors may be putting money into the pockets of mafia syndicates, armed insurgents, and terrorist networks.
This is a global problem–it requires global solutions.