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Global Leaders Meet to Discuss Countering Violent Extremism

July 10, 2017

Halting Illicit Trade in Conflict Antiquities A Priority

WASHINGTON D.C., July 10, 2017—The U.S. government will host the Global Coalition Against Daesh (ISIS) from July 11–13 to coordinate international efforts to fight the violent extremist organization—including their sources of terrorist financing.

The Antiquities Coalition calls on the 72-member Global Coalition to ensure that prevention of the looting and illicit trade in conflict antiquities—the proceeds of which are used to finance war and terror—remain a core topic on the agenda.

“The Middle East and North Africa, where these violent extremist organizations flourish, is home to hundreds of thousands of ancient sites where civilization first developed,” said Deborah Lehr, Chairman of the Antiquities Coalition.  “Daesh has actively encouraged looting of these archaeological sites, and any financing derived from their sale is too much when it comes to funding terrorism.”

A 2015 raid by U.S. special forces on Abu Sayyaf, the so-called Chief Financial Officer of Daesh, uncovered evidence of the organization’s systematic approach to antiquities looting and trafficking. The discovery confirmed that the sale of antiquities was being used as a significant source of financing for Daesh, in addition to sale of oil and kidnapping.

As the Antiquities Coalition has warned, “homegrown” terrorists in Europe are also allegedly using the trade in conflict antiquities to finance their attacks. The French-language weekly Paris Match has already exposed clear links between cultural racketeering and terrorist financing in Belgium—including the violent extremist network responsible for the deadly Brussels attacks on March 22, 2016. Just the sale of one artifact can fund terrorist activity on the scale seen there, as well as in London, Paris, and beyond.

Conflict antiquities from the Middle East and North Africa region have been uncovered by law enforcement in all the major art and antiquities markets globally, including the United States. In fact, the FBI has warned the U.S. is being used as a destination for this illicit trade.   

With recent military and territorial gains against Daesh, including the liberation of Mosul, it is more vital than ever to hit the group where it really hurts—their purse strings.

The Antiquities Coalition therefore calls upon all member governments of the Global Coalition Against Daesh to fight aggressively to ensure that the trade in “conflict antiquities” is brought to an end.


About the Antiquities Coalition 

The Antiquities Coalition unites a diverse group of experts in the fight against cultural racketeering: the illicit trade in antiquities by organized criminals and terrorist organizations. This plunder for profit funds crime and conflict around the world—erasing our past and threatening our future. The Coalition’s innovative and practical solutions tackle crimes against heritage head on, empowering communities and countries in crisis. Learn more at

Berceste Demiroglu
The Antiquities Coalition