ISIS pays its 10,000 fighters to $500-a-month (and funds a lot of other activities, too, obviously). Using a high wage of $600-a-month to ensure a low estimate, open-source arms monitor Eliot Higgins (@Brown_Moses) pointed out how many fighters could be employed by ISIS with the money from bank robberies. Performing the same calculations with the $36m from antiquities trafficking, that money could fund a permanent force of 5,000 fighters.
Even if 1,000 of those employees were the looters who extracted the cultural property assets and the smugglers who transported them, their work would still fund a whole brigade. Surely this demonstrates that, even if paramilitary involvement in the illicit antiquities trade is “limited” to Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, it plays a serious role in conflict.
ISIS is the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, also known as ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), Da’ash, Da’esh or Da’ish.