Conflict Antiquities: Panel 1 Video

October 16, 2015

THOMAS P. CAMPBELL, DIRECTOR AND CEO, THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART:  I think we’re going to – we’ll be joined, I’m sure, by other colleagues, but knowing how terrible traffic is, I think we need to get going.  I’m respectful of your time. 

I’m Tom Campbell, director of the Metropolitan Museum, and it’s a pleasure to welcome you all here today.  The situation in Syria and Iraq is both grave and deeply troubling.  In the midst of such human suffering, all other concerns can easily get lost in the shadows.  But history is cyclical.  There will be a time when peace returns to the region.  And while it may seem that there is little we can do at the moment, we must do what we can to prepare for that moment in the future.  I often say that all art was once contemporary, created by human hands, specific to time, place, and circumstance.  When this creative legacy is destroyed, we lose a piece of our shared memory.  But as we contemplate the degradations of ISIL, we must also remember that humanity is resilient.  Iconoclasm, in one form or another, is as old as the Old Testament, and indeed, older than that.  In adjacent galleries here at the Metropolitan, we have statues of Egypt’s first female pharaoh, Hatshepsut, the subject of a systematic campaign of destruction, 1,500 years BC.  Fifteen hundred years later, you have the absolute devastation of Jerusalem in 70 AD.  Fifteen hundred years after that, the destruction of monasteries in Britain by Henry VIII.  More recently, the destruction of raw artifacts after the French Revolution.  And in our own time, the cleansing of imagery under Mao’s Cultural Revolution.

These examples could be repeated many times over, expanded many times over.  And in each case, these tragedies of history were followed by research and reconstruction, and the concerted efforts of scholars and citizens to rebuild these sculptures, which refuse to let them be wiped away by any force, no matter how threatening or widespread.

So in many senses, we stand at one of those moments again.  And we must not be deterred by fear or misinformation from doing what we can to be clear-eyed about the present and prepared for the future.  Right now, information is perhaps the most important resource. Comprehending what is being lost and preserving archival details will allow these objects and monuments to survive within our universal body of knowledge and allow us to reconstruct in the future, where possible.

The network of organizations represented here today are among the great guardians of ancient civilization, and it is our collective responsibility to uphold that role through global collaborative leadership.  Today, we are honored to welcome Irina Bokova, director-general of UNESCO.  And, in fact, Irina is still, I think, on her way here, but will be joining us shortly.  Richard Stengel, Under Secretary of State; Antony Blinken, Deputy Secretary of State; and Evan Ryan, Assistant Secretary of State.  It is with a unified voice that we came together for these discussions.  It provides a forum to acknowledge what we know about the damage wrought by ISIL and to strategize about the future.

I’m going to close my opening remarks with a reflection on one of the losses we faced this year.  Khaled Asaad, the devoted archaeologist who dedicated his life to the study of Palmyra, and who was murdered for his unwillingness to reveal the location of antiquities to the Islamic State.  Let us honor him with a moment of silence.

Thank you, and I should say we will be honoring Khaled Asaad’s work with a symposium about Palmyra on May the 23rd, 2016, here at the Metropolitan.

And now, to get the proceedings going, I’d like to introduce Antony Blinken, Deputy Secretary of State.  Antony.


ANTONY BLINKEN, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE:  Good afternoon.  Tom, I want to thank you and the extraordinary staff of the Met for bringing us here today.  Having spent the last few days at the UN General Assembly in meeting after meeting at a series of hotel rooms, this is a marked improvement.  [LAUGHTER]  But I have to tell you, the Department of State is proud to call you our partner, and to be working once again with one of the premiere institutions in the world.  I’m particularly pleased that Director-General Bokova will be joining us.  At a time when modern barbarians seek to turn back the clock on history, UNESCO’s role as a guardian of our cultural heritage is needed now more than ever. 

Carving caverns of inhumanity in its wake, ISIL has murdered, raped, and enslaved its way into Syria and Iraq – towns, villages, cities.  They’ve not only killed, but as you all know, they’ve sought to erase the identity of those they’ve killed to supplant centuries of culture and history with their own ideology of nihilism and terror.  The Assyrian winged bulls of Nineveh, historic lions in Raqqa, the great city of Palmyra.  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.  It was in this region, a cradle of civilization, that our roots first came together, roots that bind us not only to our ancestors, but also to each other.  Without the enduring reminders of our past, the ground beneath our feet feels a little less certain, and the world we will pass onto future generations becomes greatly impoverished.  Each ancient artifact, rich in memory, rich in meaning, conjures a story that we can ill afford to lose, a story of survival through the millennia, through conquest and triumph, through floods and famines, until these precious treasures come finally under our generation’s stewardship and become our common responsibility.  It’s the story of a single ivory plaque, carved by skilled craftspeople from an elephant tusk in the Kingdom of Assyria nearly 3,000 years ago.  When foreign invaders destroyed the royal arsenal at Nimrud around 614 BC, the ivory panel fell from the roof into a lower room.  And there it lay, encased in collapsed brick, undisturbed until the autumn of 1989, when it was discovered, documented, and painstakingly restored.  And then, after surviving 30 centuries, it was looted last year, as ISIL fighters overran the Mosul Museum and took power tools to other priceless antiquities.  But just as it was about to be lost forever, the ancient plaque was recovered deep in Syria and safely returned to Iraqi preservation experts.

Unfortunately, as you know so well, for many, indeed most antiquities, that story ends differently.  What ISIL has not destroyed, it has looted and sold through a highly methodical, highly efficient excavation operation to finance its twisted ambitions.  These ancient coins, stone, glass, and mosaic fragments travel organized routes through black markets in the Middle East, Europe, and the Persian Gulf.  The profits return to line the pockets of these extremists, funding more savagery, more terror, and more devastation.

This afternoon, you’ll hear from my colleagues as they offer details on ISIL’s ongoing destruction, including some information that has not been made public until today.  In the face of this truly unprecedented crisis, it is vital that all of us – governments, international organizations, museums, auction houses, and collectors – take concrete action to both reduce the demand on the world market and cut off the supply.

That’s why the United States has developed Red Lists with the International Council of Museums to help law enforcement officials recognize looted objects.  It’s why we’ve stepped up our efforts through the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL to encourage greater action against the illicit trade.  It’s why the United States seeks reelection on the UNSECO Executive Board this November, so that we can continue to promote coordination and action at the highest levels.  And it’s why we’re working so closely with international law enforcement agencies here in the United States and around the world.

I think many of you know of something called the Rewards for Justice Program. It encourages people to provide information that prevents terrorist acts or helps put terrorists behind bars.  Today, on behalf of Secretary of State Kerry, I am pleased to announce that 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 the trade of antiquities by, for, or on behalf of ISIL.

This is one more step in bringing the weight of justice down on those who seek to advance ISIL’s destructive agenda, and in opening the eyes of the public to this unprecedented menace.  In this effort, we are grateful for the active involvement of two giants of the art market, Christie’s and eBay, which are both represented here today.  Their determination to educate their clients and the general public can serve as an example for dealers and collectors around the world.

We also welcome 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.  With such great need and urgent challenges in our world today, it’s critical that we also hold fast to the fabric of our humanity, to our gifts of reason and wisdom, our expressions of art and culture, our universal values of civility, of freedom and dignity.  These are exactly what ISIL seeks to destroy, unwittingly unleashing the very forces that will be its destruction.  Thank you very much.


EVAN RYAN, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR EDUCATIONAL AND CULTURAL AFFAIRS:  Welcome everyone.  My name’s Evan Ryan.  I’m the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.  And first and foremost, I’d like to begin by thanking the Met and the incredible team at the Met that has helped us put this together today.  We really could not have done any of it without them, especially without the outstanding leadership of Tom Campbell.  So we really want to thank the entire stellar team who are with us here today from the Met for graciously being here and hosting us.

Our goal throughout our symposium today is to explore ways for governments, international organizations, the museum community, auction houses, and collectors to cooperate more effectively in the fight against ISIL and all those who are trying to destroy Iraq and Syria’s cultural patrimony, as well as in the effort to deter the criminal networks that engage in the looting and trafficking of antiquities on the international market.  You just heard Deputy Secretary Blinken announce the extension of the Rewards for Justice Program to cover, for the first time, the trade of antiquities looted and/or traded by ISIL.  It is just one way that the U.S. government is committed to helping preserve the history and heritage of the people of Syria and Iraq.  The United States, like its international partners, is determined to pursue effective implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2199, which condemns the destruction and looting of cultural heritage and calls on member states to take appropriate steps to prevent the trade in Iraqi and Syrian cultural property and other artifacts of archaeological, historical, cultural, rare, scientific, and religious importance. 

We are all delighted to see so many people joining us here today, and especially our impressive panel that we have up here on the stage, all representing different law enforcement entities.  Having all of these panelists here today is a real testament to the growing threat posed by ISIL and its criminal allies, as well as the determination of the United States and the international law enforcement community to pursue every available avenue to crack down on the surge of antiquities trafficking that we have seen in recent years. 

We are going to begin with a brief presentation about the situation on the ground from the American Schools of Oriental Research representative and cultural heritage initiatives co-director, Michael Danti.

MICHAEL DANTI, AMERICAN SCHOOLS OF ORIENTAL RESEARCH:  It’s an honor to be here today representing the American Schools of Oriental Research Cultural Heritage Initiatives or ASOR CHI.  Our program is now beginning, as of today, officially its second year of investigation – investigations into the cultural heritage crisis in Syria and ISIL-occupied Iraq.  As you can see from this slide, our program, which is formed out of a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of State – we have three main activity areas in our program:  documenting damage in the conflict zone, promoting global awareness, and planning emergency and post-war responses.  My duties on the program are essentially to collect ground-based observations for our weekly reporting to the U.S. Department of State to produce timely and accurate analyses of the cultural heritage situation.  In our first year, we were largely looking at cultural heritage destruction, which is outside my talk today.  In our first year, we did look at archaeological looting across the conflict zone, but for the most part, trafficking and the sales of antiquities were outside our purview.  In our first year, we reported on 711 heritage incidents in Syria alone, and we still have probably 250 open cases that we’re still working on from year one, and 80 incidents of cultural heritage destruction or looting in Iraq, with another hundred open cases in that first year ending August.

Most of the damage in Syria, which I’m covering today, occurred in the governorate of Aleppo, followed by Hasakah and Daraa.  In many ways, this mirrors the combat kinetics in the conflict zone.  Many of these incidents measured here were looting incidents, particularly in Aleppo and Hasakah.  When we look at causes of damage in year one, it’s very revealing.  The number one reported heritage incident in the conflict zone was looting with the primary purpose of producing antiquities, 25 percent of the incidents that we examined in Syria, followed by combat damage, 20 percent, and then illegal digging on archaeological sites, not primarily for the purpose of producing antiquities, but resulting in antiquities discoveries nonetheless:  agricultural digging, military excavation.  Then illegal construction, deliberate destructions of heritage places, and vandalism.  And that essentially are the six leading causes of heritage destruction in year one.  Anecdotally, in the beginnings now of year two, we’re seeing a similar pattern.

When we look at looting across Syria, who’s committing these acts, where is the looting happening?  It’s happening everywhere.  Most of – all of the major belligerents are involved in or complicit in cultural property crimes, as you can see here in the breakdown.  This map is somewhat dated, but it shows the zones of control for Kurdish paramilitaries, opposition forces, Syrian regime, and ISIL.  And you can see in a sample of archaeological sites, a sample of well-known archaeological sites, visible on satellite imagery, we see 23 percent, 26 percent, 15 percent, and 16 percent show signs of looting that has occurred during the conflict.  This is not pre-conflict looting.  There was a pattern of pre-conflict looting in Syria, but that looting, of course, became a major problem in 2011-2012.  What makes Islamic State different here, though, is the intensity with which they loot archaeological sites.  They remove the entire archaeological site from the face of the Earth when they conduct looting operations frequently.  So we see severe and moderate looting as a special problem in ISIL-controlled territories.

Some of the sites that we’ve seen intensively looted, starting with regime-controlled areas –this is a well-known case at this point.  This is the classical period site of Apamea.  On the left, an image from August 24, 2015 from Digital Globe.  It’s very difficult to see the looting trenches in that image, given the scale.  But what my colleagues at ASOR CHI have done on the right-hand image is bracketed the different episodes of damage across four different recent satellite images to show you how looting expanded from the center of the site from the red areas, out to yellow, then blue and green.  The green is looting that has occurred between November 28, 2013 and August 24, 2015.  The reason that it’s diminishing over time is that the site has essentially been completely looted at this point.  And so too with the site of Dura Europos on the Euphrates River:  the blue, red, greens, and yellows show areas, again, of looting that are bracketed for different time frames.  This site was heavily looted starting with the Syrian Civil War in 2011.  Those are the areas in red, just outside the Byzantine period city walls.  Blue is the most intense looting.  That’s looting that occurred up to April 2, 2014.  What you see here is the complete looting of the site, and then extramural areas out in the countryside are also being looted at this point.  It’s extremely intensive looting.  And we see material that’s clearly coming from this site on the market, as I will show you.  This is a close-up of the looting holes at the site of Dura Europos.  So, effectively, this site has been completely looted at this point.

There is a preference in Syria for looting Hellenistic Roman and Byzantine sites.  We see antiquities on the market coming from those time periods.  The satellite imagery bears this out.  These antiquities are easier to market.  They’re easier to launder.  They can be given provenance that they’re eastern Mediterranean.  They don’t necessarily have the fingerprints of northern Iraq or Syria on them once they make it onto the market.  But we’re seeing sites from other time periods being looted as well.  This is the early Bronze Age site of Mari, a very famous excavation, a site on the Euphrates River.  And the areas in red show extensive looting of its middle Bronze Age levels.  But much of the looting is market-driven.

When we look at roots, we have a lot of anecdotal information on this, on our project from year one, where we do have some information on trans-shipment points, where antiquities are going, the sorts of material that’s going to Europe versus the Gulf or other points in the market.  When we look at this distribution network, the best map that I could find to illustrate this is a map that shows the refugee crisis.  The antiquities are flowing out along these same paths, if you were to substitute Bulgaria as a major antiquities smuggling country and take Hungary out.  That’s what we’ve seen in our year one.  So this is a very accurate assessment.  The material moves from Syria to Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.  It is then cached there – or still in the conflict zone of Syria and Iraq – and then it’s slowly moved out of the country as buyers are found.

Social media, digital photography, cell phone photographs are used to market the material.  The material is cached in locations and then digital photographs are used to globally market this material, oftentimes to new classes of buyers who’ve not traditionally been involved in purchasing antiquities.  It’s a peer-to-peer discovery of buyers, through Islamic State’s network and other transnational criminal organizations.  So this dealing is fairly direct, from what I’m seeing, and it’s heavily reliant on digital technologies.  The illustration here shows a Facebook site that was dealing in Syrian looted antiquities. 

Material is also being cached.  We have information on caches of antiquities under ISIL control.  And other belligerents in the conflict zone are caching antiquities, but what is surprising to me is the amount of low and middle-end material that’s actually on the market already.  On any given week, we’re seeing lots of photographs and getting lots of information on antiquities that are being marketed from the conflict zone, but not so much the high end of the market.

But this is a typical cell phone photograph of the sorts of material that’s being marketed, the low end of the market in this case, let’s say, in terms of monetary value, but lots of material that really is indicative of metal detecting.  We know that Islamic State is providing licenses to looters to conduct metal detecting on archaeological sites.  This is an example of material being marketed in Turkey that to my mind shows people working with metal detectors on Byzantine sites.  Other types of antiquities on the market:  this is just a random selection of material that I received in January and February of this year.  And these are the sorts of photographs that are used to market the material:  cylinder seals, bronzes, molds.  This material was being marketed with the provenance of Dura.  It was being marketed by a source allegedly close to ISIL from Deir ez-Zor.

Classical period material being marketed in southern Turkey. 

Manuscripts and other cultural property as well.  It’s not just antiquities.

And coins:  the most frequent material that we see on the market now in illicit trade are gold and silver coins and low-denomination copper and bronze coins in large lots.  Again, metal detecting is the primary way that this material is discovered.  And just random assortments of material.  This material was being marketed to as far away as Sweden and Norway using cell phone photographs.

So fairly typical material, and some not-so-typical material.  We also see known pieces from sites like Palmyra, pieces from tombs that were robbed while the site was under regime control.  We know that ISIL has taken a lot of antiquities from the site of Palmyra since they’ve moved in as well, so we’re anticipating seeing a lot more of that material.  There are fakes and other items that really reflect what we’re seeing in the satellite imagery.  In the upper right, you see a very distinctive style of sculpture.  This is indicative of the site of Mari.  We see the site as looted on the satellite imagery.  I see a single sculpture head from the site of Mari on the market.  I know it must have a lot of friends out there on the illicit market. 

Fake coins and genuine coins in high denomination.  Sumerian sculptures from southern Iraq have made it onto the market in southern Turkey, mixed in with Syrian material.  The fake coin at the lower right, which is an extremely high-value Athenian dekadrachm, was allegedly forged in Bulgaria, taken to Turkey, and mixed with legitimate material.  So salting of fakes into lots of antiquities.

And last, but not least, material from the Raqqa Museum storehouses and theTell Bi’a excavations in Raqqa, material that is being marketed with its registration numbers still on it.  So we have terra cottas in this photograph from Tell Bi’a, the German excavations, and examples of Raqqa-ware, a product of the medieval period in the city of Raqqa, now a major center, of course, for ISIL.

So, from what has ASOR CHI seen and put together in year one with regard to ISIL cultural property crimes?  Specifically, our focus today is on ISIL.  In terms of looting, we’ve seen a range of activities out of ISIL.  ISIL hires workmen to loot.  They license looting by others and they tax looting.  And there has been, over time, a documented shift towards increased control and organization in ISIL’s looting and trafficking operations.  ISIL occasionally engages directly in looting, but most of the involvement that we have documented has been indirect.  ISIL robs cultural repositories and steals cultural property from its opponents.  It robs cultural property from ethnic and religious minorities.  It robs museums.  It robs excavation storehouses.  So thousands of antiquities in a single event sometimes are taken by the organization.  We see with trafficking that ISIL taxes smuggling through its territories and border crossings.  This is another revenue stream for the organization.  ISIL caches material for later distribution and sale as well.  And then, in terms of the antiquities sales, even though this was outside of our purview, we saw that ISIL sells material and taxes the antiquity sales of others, according to our sources in-country, and that they use digital marketing to reach global buyers and circumvent vulnerabilities in traditional distribution and marketing.  They have adapted the way that they market the material.  There is this digital trail now of photographs that are being used to market the material.

So I’d like to thank the U.S. Department of State, the J.M. Kaplan Fund, and our ASOR CHI team, and our many partners, for helping me to put this presentation together.  And I hope after year two, we have more detailed information on antiquities trafficking and sales as well.  Thank you for your attention.


MS. RYAN:  Thank you, Michael.  We will now hear from Andrew Keller, Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Economic Affairs.  He will share information that is being made public for the first time about the alarming scope of ISIL’s looting and trafficking of Iraq and Syria’s irreplaceable cultural heritage.

ANDREW KELLER, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE, BUREAU OF ECONOMIC AND BUSINESS AFFAIRS:  Thank you very much.  It’s a pleasure to be here.  My name, again, is Andrew Keller.  I’m a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs.  I am here in my capacity as the co-lead for counter-ISIL finance efforts in the U.S. government.  And in that role, I focus on all of ISIL’s various revenue streams, including antiquities.  I think to understand how antiquities fits into the picture, it’s important to understand a few overall points of ISIL’s financial structure.  The first, and probably the most important, is that they are raising revenue at an unprecedented rate for a terrorist organization.  In 2014 alone, they’ve raised over a billion dollars, per our estimates.  Unlike many other terrorist groups, for example, Al-Qaida, ISIL does not rely on deep-pocketed donors to raise most of their money.  And that brings me to the second point, which is that they raise their money through control of territory, meaning they exploit the resources, whether it’s natural resources like oil, whether it’s extortion or taxation of the captive population within their territory, or whether it’s looting and trafficking in stolen antiquities.

In many ways, ISIL looks at antiquities simply as another resource that they can exploit.  They sit on about 5,000 archaeological sites and, frankly, they exploit these archaeological sites for two main purposes.  First is to make money, and the second, as we all know, is to erase the rich and diverse cultural heritage of Iraq and Syria.

The U.S. government assesses – excuse me – the U.S. government assesses that ISIL has probably earned several million dollars from antiquity trafficking since mid-2014.  But the actual amount is unknown.  I think it’s perhaps this reason that we can’t put an actual dollar figure, that there’s still some doubters out there.  There’s still some people who resist the idea that ISIL is profiting from the trade in antiquities.  I’m here to tell you that there can no longer be any doubt.  On May 16 of this year, U.S. special forces raided the Syrian compound of Abu Sayyaf, who was the head of the ISIL division for oil and gas and antiquities for the Syrian province of ISIL.  Today we’re going to share information that has never been shared publicly before that was obtained during the raid and I think that documents that ISIL is well-organized to traffic in looted antiquities, that it devotes considerable administrative and logistical resources to this activity, and most importantly, that it profits from this activity.

Here you see a translation of a chart that was obtained during the raid of the Diwan for Natural Resources.  The original Arabic was written on ISIL letterhead, and what is apparent in the original Arabic is that the Diwan for Natural Resources, which includes ISIL’s oil and gas revenue efforts, which is their most profitable revenue stream, also includes the antiquities division.  I think the bottom row of the chart is particularly interesting.  It shows that ISIL at least has lines of effort or perhaps full-blown departments to deal with the marketing, the excavation, the exploration and identification of new antiquities sites, the research and investigation of known archaeological sites, as well as administration for this entire function.

This document, which is dated November 21, 2014 is directed to the amir, or the leader of the Diwan for Natural Resources.  It appears that the sender is unknown – or the sender is unknown, but it appears that they are of a higher rank than the amir, which puts them, let’s just say, in the upper echelons of ISIL leadership.  The letter informs the amir that Abu Sayyaf will be the head of the ISIL antiquities division for the Syrian province of ISIL.  Interestingly, it informs us that the reason that he’s being considered or appointed to that position is because he’s very knowledgeable in the field and also because he has experience working in the Levant with people who work in antiquities and are considered to be, quote, “weak of faith.”

Here we see a photograph of a minor protective deity that was found in Abu Sayyaf’s electronic media during the raid.  I think from this picture, the fact that the deity is found in tact – our belief is that it was likely intended to eventually be put on the market for sale.  Let me show you a few other pictures of images that were recovered from the raid.  I won’t go into too many more because of time constraints.  In addition to images that were found in Abu Sayyaf’s electronic media, he also had many artifacts and valuable antiquities in his possession, which I think clearly illustrates his involvement in the antiquities effort.  The cache that was found comprised an assortment of artifacts, fragments, historical objects, modern and contemporary items, as well as some replica and fake antiquities.  I’m pleased to report that the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has turned all of the items that were found – or all of the antiquities that were found – over to the Iraqi National Museum.  And that museum is now working to determine the precise provenance of each piece.

So let’s turn to looting.  ISIL does not just passively tax the sale of antiquities by others.  It actively controls the trade to ensure maximum profit.  Between October, 2014 and April of this year, Abu Sayyaf signed eight antiquities division memoranda, including the one you see on this slide.  They authorize certain individuals to excavate and supervise the excavation of artifacts in ISIL-controlled territory.  And in some cases, to detain anyone who is searching for artifacts without a license.  These types of documents are effectively a license to loot.

Taxation.  Documents uncovered from the Abu Sayyaf raid confirm that ISIL is collecting a 20 percent khums tax on the proceeds of looting, which the group has enforced across the territory it controls.  The khums tax is a tax on Muslims’ earnings or war booty.  The pink book, which you see in this slide, is a collection of 11 receipts for the sale of antiquities between December 6, 2014 and March 26 of this year.  The receipts are signed either by Abu Sayyaf or others in the antiquities division.  They are for more than $265,000 in khums tax, which suggests sales transactions somewhere in the range of $1.25 million.  Remember that this is just one snapshot of ISIL’s gains from antiquities trafficking during a short time period.

Here are three receipts from the book.  You’ll notice in the top left corner, they are from the Islamic State Diwan of Natural Resources Antiquities Division.  And the three receipts all together total about $24,000 in khums tax.

In addition to licensing, looting, and collecting tax, ISIL is also committed to preventing unauthorized individuals from looting.  On this slide, we see Administrative Memo Number Five, issued by the ISIL General Monitoring Committee, and dated September 13, 2014.  The memo does a number of things.  It bans ISIL members from excavating archaeological sites unless they have received a stamped permit from the Antiquities Division.  It bans ISIL members who are not part of the Antiquities Division from giving a looting permit to anyone else.  It annuls any previous assignment or permit, whoever the issuing authority might have been, and directs holders of such permits to report to the Antiquities Division.  And finally, it ends ominously, warning that anyone proven to be in violation of this order since its issuing date is considered to be disobedient and is subject to penalty in accordance with Sharia law.

We are convinced within the U.S. government that based on the evidence from the Abu Sayyaf raid, ISIL is engaged in the systematic looting and trafficking of antiquities, and that it derives significant income from these activities.  We need to stop them both to protect our common heritage and to deprive them of the funds that fuel their reign of terror.  Given that they control thousands of archaeological sites, however, cutting off the supply is incredibly difficult.  So we must work together to focus on the demand side of the problem.  We must especially target those who claim to be ignorant or who turn a blind eye to what is happening.  If you’re not paying attention or you’re ignoring where these artifacts and antiquities are coming from, then you are potentially supporting an organization that commits some of the most heinous crimes imaginable.  This cannot be a government effort alone.  Everyone has a role to play:  government, the private sector, auction houses, museums, and collectors.  Together, we can and will make a difference.  Thank you.


MS. RYAN:  Thank you, Andrew.  We will now turn to Robert Hartung, Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security.

ROBERT HARTUNG, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE, BUREAU OF DIPLOMATIC SECURITY:  Is this on or – Yeah?  Hello.  Since I do not have accompanying slides, and I think we’re running a little bit behind time, I will speak from where I sit.  Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for the opportunity to participate in this afternoon’s important forum, and to highlight another key U.S. government counter-terrorism initiative, the Rewards for Justice Program.  As Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Threat Investigations and Analysis Directorate at the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, I oversee the Rewards for Justice Program, which is one of the U.S. government’s most valuable assets in the fight against terrorism.  Through Rewards for Justice, the U.S. Secretary of State can offer to pay rewards for information that favorably resolves acts of international terrorism against U.S. persons or property, domestically or abroad, that leads to the arrest or prosecution of individuals responsible for such acts, or to the location of a key terrorist leader, or that disrupts terrorism financing.  Indicative of its success, the program has paid in excess of $125 million to more than 80 individuals since its inception in 1984.  With the focus on disrupting the financing that allows ISIL to fund its brutal tactics and its terrorist activities, and as part of a broad U.S. government response, the U.S. Department of State announced earlier today a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the significant disruption of the sale and/or trade of antiquities by, for, on behalf of, or to benefit ISIL.  This reward offer joins a host of other U.S. government initiatives intended to stop ISIL’s financing and funding.  In announcing this reward offer, the U.S. Department of State hopes to generate information regarding individuals or entities engaged in the processing, smuggling, distribution, sale, and trade of antiquities benefitting ISIL, as well as information about the smuggling networks, methods, and routes underlining these activities.  Getting to the root of these activities and identifying those individuals responsible will help our public and private partners to craft solutions to counteract and remedy trafficking in conflict antiquities.  Ultimately, information generated by this reward offer will help us disrupt ISIL’s ability to finance its operations and activities. 

I must underscore that Rewards for Justice is not offering a buyback program for trafficked antiquities.  Rewards for Justice is focusing on soliciting information about terrorist activities.  Through the Rewards for Justice Program, individuals who provide information that significantly disrupts ISIL’s financing may be eligible for rewards.  Credible tip information will be investigated by federal law enforcement agencies, which may, in turn, nominate tipsters to receive payments when successful, significant disruptions have occurred.   Secretary of State Kerry has accurately described ISIL and its brutality – and I am quoting here, “as one of the most tragic and outrageous assaults on our shared heritage that perhaps any of us have seen in a lifetime.” 

Through Rewards for Justice, watchful citizens can do their part to disrupt the looting and sale of conflict antiquities, counter ISIL’s financing of its brutal and nihilistic activities, and bring to justice those responsible.  Individuals providing useful and actionable information will be helping to preserve and safeguard our shared cultural heritage, making the world a safer place for us, and allowing future generations to experience and enjoy some of the world’s greatest landmarks and historical artifacts of civilization.  We encourage anyone with information on ISIL’s trafficking in antiquities to contact the Rewards for Justice via the website at, via email:, and by telephone:  1-800-877-3927.  Individuals outside of the United States may also contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to provide information.  All information submitted to us, of course, will be kept strictly confidential.  And let me just add at the end, the game – and the name of the game, I guess, that Rewards for Justice participates in is in information.  And the program has been highly successful since its inception in 1984.  And we rely on the information that, in many cases, very, very brave individuals provide to us at the risk of their own safety or of death.  Thank you very much.


MS. RYAN:  Thank you, Robert.  We’ll now turn to Mauro Miedico, chief of section of the Terrorism Prevention Branch of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.

MAURO MIEDICO, CHIEF OF SECTION, TERRORISM PREVENTION BRANCH, UN OFFICE ON DRUGS AND CRIME:  Thank you.  Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to begin by thanking the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the State Department.  We at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime are honored to be part of this very important initiative, to protect cultural heritage and mobilize the international community.  In recent years, the world has witnessed the growing involvement of organized criminal and terrorist groups in the destruction, looting, and trafficking of cultural property and its sale through all kinds of markets.  In 2011, my office, UNODC estimated that the proceeds of transnational crime related to art and cultural property amounted to between $3.4 and $6.3 billion yearly. 

Today, I would like to focus on three points.  First, I would like to stress that there is a solid international legal framework in place.  The international community has long developed international instruments specifically related to the protection of cultural property, including under the auspices of UNESCO with the 1970 milestone convention.  In order to more effectively address the issues of terrorist exploitations of cultural property, the UN Security Council itself recently adopted two important resolutions.  Resolution 2199 of 2015 recognizes the close link of the illicit trafficking in cultural property with the financing of terrorist activities of ISIL, ANF, and al-Qaida.  It requests member states to take appropriate steps to prevent the trade in Iraqi and Syrian cultural property.  The relationship between trafficking and cultural property and the financing of terrorist activities has also been acknowledged by Security Council Resolution 2195 of 2014, which noted that terrorists profit from the selling and trafficking of artifacts.  Resolution 2195 requests member states to also strengthen border management to prevent illicit trade. 

The United Nations Conventions Against Transnational Organized Crime and the International Conventions for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorists are also relevant to ensure the criminalization, effective investigation, and prosecution of trafficking in cultural property and its exploitation to finance terrorist groups.  These conventions enjoy near universal membership, and as such, provide a strong basis for joint action.  United Nation Conventions Against Corruption is equally important, as trafficking in cultural property would be difficult, if not impossible, without corrupted customer officer, border police, with the complicity of the private sector dealers.  I would also like to refer to the international guidelines for crime prevention and criminal justice with respect to trafficking in cultural property and other related offenses, adopted by the General Assembly last December.  UNODC facilitated the development of these guidelines that are the first instrument to set out standards for the criminalization of trafficking in cultural property.  We therefore have a strong set of international provisions, most of them being mandatory for all member states, that can and should be enforced to prevent and tackle the destruction, looting, and trafficking of cultural property.

This brings me to the second point.  That is how we can contribute to ensure full enforcement of the mentioned legal framework. Please allow me to stress that the trafficking in cultural property from Syria and Iraq needs to be combatted on a global scale. From our point of view, a comprehensive response can be structured on five priorities. First, particular attention should be paid to broad criminalization of illegal trade of antiquities in all jurisdictions, including through benefiting from the experience of national jurisdictions which already did so and implemented Security Council Resolution 1483, adopted back in 2003. 

Second, we see an urgent need for a comprehensive study to assess the extent of the trafficking, trafficking routes, countries involved, as well as the common challenges in criminal justice responses to this phenomenon.  Third, we see the need to do more to support criminal justice practitioners in using special investigative techniques, conducting financial investigations, as well as with prosecution, adjudication, international cooperation, and confiscation.  From our side, we are committed to supporting member states by providing technical assistance to strengthen legal frameworks and increase the capacity of law enforcement and judicial authorities at the national level.

Fourth, responses should involve the adoption of emergency border control efforts, including efforts to strengthen the capacity to detect illicitly excavated or stolen cultural property and to stop the export of looted cultural property to finance terrorism.   In this regard, the Terrorist Prevention Branch of my office has carried out several workshops and several are planned.  As an example, we organized a regional workshop on cross-border cooperation to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorist acts, held in May this year in Egypt for Middle East and North African countries.  We plan to hold similar workshops in the region for Lebanon, Egypt and Iraq.

Fifth, UNODC is also currently developing a practical assistance tool to support implementation of the mentioned guidelines.  We have collected a database of case law decisions on cultural property, as well as a directory of national authorities that can facilitate international cooperation to combat the trafficking and facilitate confiscation.

I reach the third point I would like to raise with you today.  Enforcement of the legal framework can never be effective without the full cooperation and the involvement of the private sector.  The current monitoring systems  – Red Lists of ICOM, inventories of stolen artifacts such as the Interpol databases – are often not sufficient.  As an example, most of the looting done by ISIL is related to artifacts which are excavated and for which there was no prior record or knowledge.  Therefore, the current situation requires that we work strongly on curbing the demand.  To do so, we need necessarily to work together with the private sector, raise awareness first about the key role that the private sector can fulfill, and second, that by failing to conduct proper due diligence, auction houses, galleries, museums, banks and collectors may be breaching the law.  By bringing together private sector, international organizations and government representatives, these type of events provide a unique opportunity to brainstorm and explore opportunities to partner up, for example through the setting up of shared platforms to work together.  Under my chair, the Working Group on the Prevention of Financing of Terrorism of the United Nations is also planning to have some special event to promote the implementation of Security Council Resolution 2199, including by forging partnership with the private sector.

In concluding, I would like to stress that the theft and trafficking of cultural property in Iraq and Syria not only fuel the activities of terrorist groups such as ISIL, but are part of a conscious attempt to destroy the region’s rich history and identity.  ISIL’s activities have been characterized as “cultural cleansing” and a war crime, and as such, they must be prosecuted.  We should all collectively do our utmost to stop this.  Thank you very much.


MS. RYAN:  Thank you, Mauro.  Our next speaker is Lev Kubiak, assistant director, International Operations, Homeland Security Investigations, Department of Homeland Security.

LEV KUBIAK, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL OPERATIONS, HOMELAND SECURITY INVESTIGATIONS, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY:  Good afternoon.  Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak to a fantastic selection of individuals, and thank you to our longstanding partnership with the Department of State to address the theft of cultural antiquities and the trafficking of those in the United States.

I think it’s interesting to be able to speak.  Traveling up from Washington, DC today, in front of a group of people that are probably primarily from New York City, because our department, the Department of Homeland Security, was created, as you know, specifically as the aftermath of the effects of 9/11, which had such a major impact on this city and on our nation.  Two agencies within that department were merged and formed out of the merging of immigration and customs and law enforcement authorities that were resident in the U.S. Customs Service and the Immigration Service, and other agencies that are now part of the Department of Homeland Security.  Specifically, those two agencies, ICE –Immigration and Customs Enforcement – and Customs and Border Protection have the unique authorities and opportunities to protect the homeland against all things that may harm her as they enter into the United States, whether they’re illicit goods, illicit people, or financing related to those illicit activities.  We take that charge seriously with things that you may be much more familiar with:  narcotics trafficking, weapons trafficking, illicit finance and money laundering around the world.  But there are areas much like the topic we’re discussing today – antiquities, wildlife trafficking, and others – that we are much less well-known for, but still have unique capabilities and authorities to have a major impact on this specific threat that ISIL poses to the United States and to the globe.  We have worked cultural antiquities trafficking cases for many decades now, and used those authorities even before the Department of Homeland Security was initially stood up.  But we have used those merged authorities to leverage that capability even more effectively after 9/11 and after the creation of the department.  And we have expanded those capabilities to attack a serious number of antiquities thefts, and more importantly, the trafficking organizations that are profiting from the illicit trade.  Because at the end of the day, that is essentially what ISIS is, is it is a very dangerous and a very deadly organization, but one that operates, as we saw from the earlier presentations, with a specific business model to profit from illicit activity and crime. 

We have worked since 2007, seized nearly 7,000 items that have been repatriated to countries all around the globe.  Most recently, Assistant Secretary Ryan participated with us in the return of an item, the head of Sargon II, which was looted from Iraq, smuggled into the United States by a criminal organization, sold on the black market, and then the profits were transferred overseas.  More recently, just a few months ago, we worked a very, very significant case named Operation Mummy’s Curse, which identified over – many thousands of items from the entire region that we’re talking about here, predating ISIL’s activity, but showing the immense amount of profit that can be made by criminal organizations that are trafficking these items and the profit that will come back to this organization if we don’t work more effectively together.  Many of the items that you walk through to get to this auditorium today are similar to those items that we have repatriated to Egypt.  And I was struck during that repatriation that was hosted by National Geographic in Washington, DC earlier this month, as I spoke with one of the Egyptologists who helped us with that investigation through the Smithsonian relationship that we have.  And she educated me on the fact that the sarcophagus that we returned – one of two that was 2,600 years old, and one of two funeral boats that were 4,000 years old – that she was reading the hieroglyphics on the sarcophagus and realized that she knew the name of the individual that was buried, and from carbon dating, she could tell when that item had been buried, that sarcophagus had been buried.  Not only that, but based on her expertise and her knowledge of Egypt being a nomadic civilization at that time, she realized that she could tell us exactly where that sarcophagus was buried because she knew where that family was located 2,600 years ago in Egypt.

Furthermore, she knew from her research and her efforts in that area exactly when that region of Egypt was looted.  She looked at me on the stage at National Geographic and with a small smile in her eye – face, said to me, “I imagine that if I told you all of that information, you and the Department of Homeland Security with the information that you have about goods transiting the world, about things being imported and exported around the world, about money being moved back and forth around the world, if I could tell you who she was, where she was buried, when she was looted, and when she likely was shipped from Egypt, I bet you could help me figure out who did that and how that happened.”  And when the State Department asked me to speak here today, that’s the item that struck me the most about the opportunity of this venue and the opportunity of the people that are gathered here is the expertise that’s sitting in this auditorium that we can leverage from a federal law enforcement standpoint to reduce demand, because that’s the critical aspect to solving any law enforcement solution, to shrink supply by tightening the chain and network of those things, and by identifying the transnational criminal organizations that are involved in the theft, the looting, the transfer, the ultimate sale, and the profit of those items, that we can do that better together than separately.  We, the law enforcement personnel that you see here – the Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, the FBI, ICE, CBP, and our prosecutorial force at the Department of Justice – we’re not experts in this arena, and we will never amass the knowledge or the expertise that you have.  What we can do, though, is partner with you more effectively through forums like this, and more importantly, through a series of forums that we hope to set up in the intervening months, of small group sessions of experts where we can extract from you some of the information about where these items might be being shipped from, where these items might be transiting around the globe, who within the various regions of the world where we have conflict zones may be profiting, and how the money may be getting back to those regions.  I’m confident that there are many people in this room that have that knowledge and understand that.  And what we need is a better mechanism for you to share that information with government so that we can then more effectively interdict that activity, educate the public through the capability of the United States government and the Met to pull things together like this, and to ultimately hold those accountable that refuse to be dissuaded from their illicit activity.  I’m confident that if we work together through a panel like this that we can effectively change the dynamic, not only for ISIL and Syria, which is our highest priority at the moment, but for looted antiquities around the globe.

I hope that you will partner with us.  I would like to just introduce quickly to you the agents in this office:  Glenn Sorge, who is the special agent in charge from New York City.  Will you stand, Glen?  Erin Keegan, group supervisor, J.P. Labatt, Brent Easter, Jamie Powell, Dominic DiGiovanni.  The first several are from ICE Homeland Security Investigations.  They’re based here in New York City.  The last two that I mentioned, Jamie and Dominik, are with Customs and Border Protection.  And I would encourage you to seek them out during the break in the session afternoon to talk a little bit more and learn a little bit more about the capability that we have.  These agents and these officers that you’re meeting here today are responsible for the case Operation Mummy’s Curse that returned those sarcophagus, and are responsible for the head of the King Sargon II being returned to Iraq.  We have the capability to do more of this.  We need your help to help us figure out how to do that better.  Thank you very much for your time.  Thank you very much for your work.


MS. RYAN:  Thank you, Lev.  Our final speakers are Richard Downing, deputy assistant attorney general from the Department of Justice, together with Max Marker, from the Transnational Organized Crime Office with the FBI.

RICHARD DOWNING, ACTING DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE:  Thank you very much.  I wanted to express my thanks, both to the Met and to the State Department for the invitation to be here and for putting together this symposium on a very important issue.  What I’d like to do is explain a little bit about the Department of Justice’s efforts and what we are doing to help to address the serious situation that we’ve heard and seen in all the presentations that have come to date now.  We, of course, at the department work very closely with our colleagues in federal law enforcement, such as HSI and CBP and the Diplomatic Security Service.  And I’m going to split my time with my colleague here from the FBI. 

Our prosecution efforts span a number of different areas.  We have, of course, prosecutorial offices around the country that bring these sorts of cases.  But we have actually begun a renewed effort to focus on the theft of antiquities, and that’s based in Washington at our section that I supervise called the Human Rights and Special Prosecution Section, which has a long history of working in human rights prosecutions.  It’s a central prosecuting office and also a resource to the field that will be devoted to the issue of antiquities theft.  And, in particular, in looking at the recent efforts that we’ve begun to address some of the ISIS threat, the department has been coordinating with U.S. and international law enforcement officials to try to identify cases for investigation and prosecution.  Of course, it’s very critical that we be able to coordinate and share key evidence in order to solve these international crimes.  And indeed, as recently as last month, Department of Justice prosecutors and the FBI met with seven European countries at Europol to discuss potential case leads and coordination. 

So what’s the path forward for us as we see things moving ahead?  We certainly, like others here on the panel, would ask that museums and merchants and marketplace participants be aware of the potential for Syrian and Iraqi and Middle Eastern antiquities that may appear on the market.  The department recognizes that these items may not arrive immediately.  It may take several years.  If the past is any guide, the networks that deal in these types of items sometimes hide their merchandise for several years before bringing it to market in order to decrease attention on what they’re up to.  So, while I think we need to be extremely diligent now, we also need to remain vigilant as times moves forward.

At the Justice Department, we are committed to investigating and prosecuting anyone found to have looted or trafficked in these items.  And we have a number of tools in the prosecutorial tool box to do that, including crimes such as smuggling and receiving stolen property.  And even those who are willfully blind to the questionable provenance of a particular item can face criminal liability.  But we are very much looking forward to partnering with the private sector in order to address this effort.  The people who knowingly deal in stolen and looted cultural antiquities are harming our collective cultural heritage and very often are also committing crimes.  And many of us in this room can really make a difference by helping to restore and to repatriate those items that we come across in our activities.  And we very much believe that a core method for us to begin to deal with this problem is to have people who do encounter it report those suspicious activities to law enforcement.  We’re very much interested – you hear the refrain across the number of people here – in working with the private sector and those to receive that information so that we can better begin to investigate and to prosecute and to create real deterrents in this area, which is so critically needed.  With that, I will pass it to my colleague from the FBI.

MAXWELL MARKER, SECTION CHIEF, CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIVE DIVISION, FBI:  Thank you.  The advantage of being the last guy on the panel is probably most of what I’m going to say has already been said before.  So I will be brief.  The FBI is devoted to combating criminal and national security threats.  The looting of antiquities and its subsequent transfer and sale presents both.  The FBI has received reports from credible sources that individuals are trying to sell objects which appear to have been illegally looted and trafficked from Syria or Iraq.  At this time, I can’t talk in specifics regarding those ongoing investigations, but I’m going to ask for your cooperation in countering those threats, and in doing that really to ask for three specific things.  The first of those is please, do not purchase objects that are likely to have been looted from Syria or Iraq.  That’s the easy one, but it’s also the hard one because what is that.  And it really flows into my second request, which is please ensure that you apply robust due diligence to any antiquities purchased in the United States.  And that includes provenance documentation, export/import documentation; for folks in the industry, applying best know-your-client practices, observing best anti-money-laundering practices, and conducting other due diligence as appropriate.  I mean, we all know that this is going on and we all know that we need to be aware of that and take those steps that we can to ensure that we are not facilitating its propagation. 

And then the third thing – and this is one of the most critical because we cannot combat this threat without your help – is please report any suspected solicitations.  Whether you do that to us at the FBI, either by calling your local FBI office, via the internet at, to our partners in law enforcement, through the Rewards for Justice Program.  However you do that, please speak up, let us know.  We need that intelligence.  And if you have additional information that you’d like, the FBI recently released a public service announcement.  I’ve got copies with me.  You can get one from me afterwards, or you can get it at, but really just reiterating kind of what I’ve said.  We’ve had discussions with the industry.  We’ve had excellent cooperation with the industry.  Nobody wants to see this stuff trafficked in the United States.  No one wants to see the downstream effects that money going to pay for these looted antiquities have.  So please help us out.  Thank you.

MS. RYAN:  Thank you, Richard and Max.


So, we’d like to thank all of our panelists.  I know we are very strapped for time, but I think we might have time for one or two questions.  If anyone has questions for our panelists from the audience, we have microphones at the top of both aisles.

Yes.  If you wouldn’t mind coming down to the microphone.  Thank you.

AUDIENCE MEMBER 1:  Good evening.  I’m from London.  I’ve been in New York for the CDI, and I was attending a session this morning about illegal wildlife trade and ivory.  I just wondered if there’s any link-up between the people that are working in that area and what you’re doing, because ultimately, it’s about illegal things being shipped around the world and money going in the wrong direction.  Thank you.

MS. RYAN:  Lev, do you want to take that?

MR. KUBIAK:  Sure. 

Absolutely.  We’re very involved in all of the illegal traffic of any type of commodity, illegally poached or endangered species, to include ivory.  We’ve done a ton of work in that area.  Specifically, I started my career nearly 20 years ago, and I can tell you that I really never imagined that I would be focused on trying to prevent the extinction of giraffes or elephants when I joined my law enforcement career.  But I will tell you that over that career, what I’ve seen is that the power of law enforcement, and particularly international law enforcement – and this is an area that we haven’t talked about today.  But many of the partners up here are very well-connected through their own attaché networks around the globe.  So if you’re from another country and there’s something specific, we can link you up, either through our websites or through the people that are here with our attaché networks in your home countries.  DOJ, FBI, DSS, and ICE all have people stationed around the globe.  We also are working closely with Interpol, Europol, some of the countries in Asia, and specifically in bilateral relationships with those countries in Africa and in Asia that are specific to wildlife trafficking.  So we’re very interested in those topics and in those – whether they be antiquities, you know, ancient items that are moved around, or whether they’re products that are endangered species activity.  The State Department has been very helpful in all of those arenas in supporting U.S. law enforcement’s ability to not only investigate the cases, but to build capacity of our foreign counterparts through their programs.  And, so we’re very engaged in that and talking on that issue as well.

MS. RYAN:  Okay.  Thank you.

AUDIENCE MEMBER 2:  Hello.  Erin Thompson from John Jay College.  Could you specify which statutes can be used to prosecute those who buy with willful blindness?

MR. DOWNING :  Sure.  There are a number of different statutes that are available.  There are the core smuggling offenses.  That would be the illegal – the importation of illicit items.  There’s theft of stolen property that is used.  There can be money laundering statutes that also apply.  There is actually a specific statute dealing with theft from museums.  So there’s a number of different ways that we look at the particular fact pattern in order to figure out what’s the most appropriate sort of criminal liability that would apply in a particular case, or if – you know, which way it makes the most sense from a prosecution point of view.

MS. RYAN:  Yes.

AUDIENCE MEMBER 3:  Yes, hi.  Christopher Tuttle, Council of American Overseas Research Centers.  I want to press you on that.  Mr. Keller pointed out in his last slide that demand drives traffic.  We talked about the statutes for the traffickers and the dealers.  But what about the people who buy?  I mean, if we’re going to stop the trafficking by reducing the demand, shouldn’t we have statutes that actually go – what currently are the penalties for somebody who does buy an object that we subsequently know turns out to be a looted object, or is pre-UNESCO charters?  We’re not going to stop the demand unless we go after the people who are buying it.

MR. DOWNING:  Right.  Well, some of the very statutes that I mentioned would apply to buyers as well:   receiving stolen property if it’s done in a context where the individual knows that it’s a stolen item can indeed be applied in that context.  And that carries a fairly substantial criminal penalty as well.  So, no, the statutes that I mentioned are not specific only to dealers and traders, although obviously, those are an important part of our enforcement efforts.  But we have to look at each particular set of facts to determine whether one of these statutes applies and how we would go about addressing it.

MS. RYAN:  Yes.

AUDIENCE MEMBER 4:  Randall Hixenbaugh, antiquities dealer, Hixenbaugh Ancient Art, here in New York.

AUDIENCE MEMBERS:  We can’t hear you.

AUDIENCE MEMBER 4:  Randall Hixenbaugh, Hixenbaugh Ancient Art, antiquities dealer here in New York.  In the converse to that question, there are hundreds of thousands of legally-acquired antiquities from Mesopotamia in the United States.  Dealers like Edgar Banks brought up crate-loads of cuneiform tablets, which have been dispersed since 1910 or 1920 all over the United States.  Palmyran reliefs are quite common.  They’re on the market regularly and the demand for them is not very high.  I digress.  [LAUGHTER]  How do we protect the investments of private collectors that might get caught up in this dragnet?


MR. MARKER:  So, one of the reasons that we talk about looking for those things, such as provenance and documentation and using sort of best practices is to encourage the legitimate trade in antiquities that are legitimately obtained and acquired while looking for those outliers that are looted.  And we are going to apply a reasonableness test, I think is fair to say, as, okay, did you knowingly acquire a looted antiquity, or did you go out and make efforts to purchase a legally-acquired antiquity in a legal fashion?  If you went out and tried to legally purchase a legally-acquired antiquity and you did what you could as a purchaser or a reseller to verify that, I don’t see us prosecuting you.  However, if you wantonly go out and engage in the shady dealings with willful ignorance to the provenance of that antiquity, then you’re putting yourself at risk.

MR. KUBIAK:  I would just add in that arena, you asked about protecting your investment.  That’s the reason that what Max is stressing is so important for the collector is because there are instances where, as the previous questioner asked, where we have arrested and held accountable buyers who were knowingly engaged, in some cases, actually soliciting specific items from criminal networks to be delivered into the United States or some other location, and paying a premium price to have those items stolen or looted or driven.  The sarcophagi that we returned was looted, but in the middle of the night from Egypt, and the day we gave it back was the first time that anyone from Egypt had seen it from the general public, and so – to be able to do that.  But if you buy something unknowingly even, you do stand the potential to lose your investment in that item and to lose that item.  And so that’s why knowing what you’re buying is so critically important.  What I would suggest is it is a good opportunity.  What you just rattled off, off the top of your head, is the information that takes us some time to learn as non-experts.  And so the ability for you to share that information with us, to teach us on the areas that are specific and to help us make those value judgments on where those things are is beneficial to both of us I think.  But at the end of the day, if you buy something without knowing its provenance, there is always a risk, if it’s an area that could be from an item looted or stolen.

AUDIENCE MEMBER 4:  I agree.  And, if I could just say one more thing.  The valuations that we’re seeing placed on some of these antiquities are a bit outlandish compared to the real valuations of the antiquities trade where a very high premium is paid for provenance.  So an object with very minimal provenance like some of the things we saw on the screen really has very little value in the antiquities trade, and when we know that ISIS controls 10 oil fields and can generate tens of millions of dollars daily, it seems odd to me that we’re this concerned about this as a money stream.  I mean, of course, it’s a major concern for cultural heritage, but it seems to be probably among the smallest revenue streams that this criminal organization has.  But that’s not a question.

MS. RYAN:  Yeah.  [LAUGHTER]  I think I would just venture to say that we’re aiming to cut off all their revenue stream, even however small it may be, to try to stop their activity.  I’m looking to my colleagues.  I know we’re really strapped for time, so do we have time for this question?  Maybe, if it’s a quick question, we would welcome it.

AUDIENCE MEMBER 5:  I noticed that the vast majority of looting in the geographical chart appeared to be coming from Aleppo Province and from Hasakah, both of which are predominantly controlled by other groups, by the Syrian rebels in Aleppo and by the Kurds in Hasakah.  I was wondering if that’s actually the source of most of the antiquities looting and smuggling, and whether that’s because of their practices or whether it’s simply where the sites are.

MR. DANTI:  That is very much an artifact of reporting.  So it’s very difficult for us to get accurate reporting on what’s going on in Raqqa Province or in Deir ez-Zor, whereas we have very good reporting on Aleppo and Hasakah.  And so in Hasakah, we see a lot of looting, small-scale looting, and in Aleppo as well.  But that chart also showed other types of heritage incidents as well, such as deliberate destruction and combat damage.  And Aleppo has been hit especially hard in those instances as well.

MS. RYAN:  I fear we’ve run over time, but I know our panelists, I think, will remain.  So hopefully you’d be able to ask your question afterwards.  So we can move on to our private-sector panel, which is awaiting.  Thank you all.  Thank you for being here with us.


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