Is there a conflict antiquities trade in Qurans from Libya via Malta?

A ‘group of gunmen’ looted the Karamanli Mosque on the 7th of October and the Sufi Othman Pasha Madrassa on the 11th; only local civilian protectors saved the Darghout Mosque from the same fate. (At the time, they were said to have taken ceramic tiles, marble architectural elements and the floor from the Karamanli Mosque; but not many details were released.)

Again, details have not been released, any systemic significance to Malta’s position as a transit country has not been assessed, but… Maltese law enforcement agencies believe that they have ‘intercepted’ at least some of the ‘Qurans and other religious manuscripts’ that were looted from those mosques. As the Libya Herald observed, if confirmed, this trafficking ‘will be further proof that the severe damage… is as much, if not more, about loot and plunder than it is about destroying architectural adornments that the attackers consider “haram”‘.

However, the image that the Libya Herald published, which it acquired from ‘social media’, shows Qurans that appear to have been on sale online since at least the 17th of February 2011.

So, are the images false, or have Maltese police/customs seized Qurans that were, at least three years ago, being sold out of Saudi Arabia? Obviously, the authorities would not circulate such old photos of their new recoveries, so the photos must be false. But it is not clear whether or not Malta is a significant transit route for illicit antiquities.

Qurans, Libya Herald, 22nd October 2014

Qurans, Libya Herald, 22nd October 2014

Qurans, Mahalama, Aqarcity, 17th February 2011

Qurans, Mahalama, Aqarcity, 17th February 2011

Qurans, Net Dealer [Mahalama], a3mal, 17th February 2011

Qurans, Net Dealer [Mahalama], a3mal, 17th February 2011

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