Katie A. Paul
On May 16, 2015, US Special Forces raided the compound of Abu Sayyaf, a leader of Daesh (commonly known as ISIS), uncovering a stockpile of documents illustrating the violent extremist network’s exploitation of illicit antiquities trafficking as a source of funding. According to the State Department, “Receipts for more than $265,000 in khums tax suggest total sales transactions worth more than $1.25 million.”
With over one million dollars in receipts from looted antiquities in such a short span of time—or $5 million annualized—it is critical to understand how Daesh turns illicit digs into dollars. Understanding the development of this activity can help in the fight to combat looting as a source of terrorist financing.
Receipts, documents, and taxation revealed that the looting by Daesh is more than just digging, it’s an administrative process. The terrorist group has created its own department of antiquities within the Diwan Al Rikaz (Office of Resources).