Posts tagged ‘paramilitary funding’

August 28, 2015

Note: Rim Turkmani hasn’t estimated IS income from Nabek as $36m, she’s noted previous reports in her LSE paper

When the Australian’s Jamie Walker said that, ‘in recent research for the London School of Economics, ­Syrian-born scientist Rim Turkmani estimated that Islamic State had earned $36 million off antiquities taken from a single site — the ancient Abyssinian monastery in Nabek’, he meant that Turkmani had tried ‘to estimate the income that ISIL makes from selling Syrian antiquities’ and concluded that it was ‘difficult’ (or, indeed, impossible, as she did not provide an estimate).

However, in her paper on ISIL, JAN and the War Economy in Syria, she also noted the Guardian’s previous report that ‘memory sticks obtained after an arrest of ISIL members in Iraq revealed that they made 36 million dollars from selling antiquities from only site in Al Nabek area in the Syria’. More than a year since their publication, the antiquities data on those memory sticks have still not been published or verified.

July 30, 2015

Buzzfeed’s Mike Giglio’s been in Turkey’s borderlands after Syria’s looted antiquities

‘Over the course of a month’, Buzzfeed’s Mike Giglio ‘traveled along Turkey’s 565-mile-long border with Syria to meet more than a dozen people involved in this illegal trade, from the grave robbers and excavators who steal the artifacts to the middlemen and dealers who sell them.’

I couldn’t believe it when I spotted the matches for the antiquities from Palmyra, but Mark Altaweel, Michael Danti and Amr al-Azm confirmed it. I’ll write that update (to this post) tonight…

July 17, 2015

Islamic State archaeology book club reading list – deliberately acquired and transported in conflict

Last month, Mehmet Nuri Ekinci reported that Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) had seized equipment from Turkish Islamic State fighters in Syria; @hasavrat noticed that they had confiscated a book that documented ancient coins; and I asked if anyone recognised it. Ute Wartenberg Kagan did – and it makes grim reading.

July 17, 2015

Reassessing the balance of antiquities and forgeries in Abu Sayyaf’s stash

Someone kindly prompted me to reconsider the balance of antiquities and fakes in Abu Sayyaf’s stash and I thought it might be worth trying to count some of the sets of objects on display. I didn’t want to do it before, because I don’t trust my eye for this material, but the fakes here appear to be so poor that they largely distinguish themselves.

I fear that unguided journalists’ professional effort to capture the variety of objects may have incidentally foregrounded the fakes, of which there is a far greater variety than there is of coins and beads. And archaeologists and criminologists (myself included), then, focused on the outliers instead of the the overwhelming majority of objects. It appears that most of Abu Sayyaf’s illicit antiquities were ancient coins.

[I’m working on a huge update based on the U.S. State Department Cultural Heritage Center’s summary and photo gallery of the ISIL leader’s loot.]

July 16, 2015

Why don’t dealers in London keep records as detailed as traffickers in Deir ez-Zor?

Thanks to Esther Saoub and Paul Barford amongst others, there have been many updates to the ‘first material proof‘ that Islamic State is trafficking antiquities.

In a further follow-up, I’ve reassessed the balance of antiquities and forgeries. I believe that most of Abu Sayyaf’s stash comprised ancient coins. [I’m working on a huge update based on the U.S. State Department Cultural Heritage Center’s summary and photo gallery of the ISIL leader’s loot.]

July 15, 2015

the ‘first material proof’ that Islamic State is trafficking antiquities

As Iraqia TV correspondent Amir Musawy scooped and SWR reporter Esther Saoub @esaoub translated, the United States has given ‘#antiquities to #Iraq, that [were] seized with #ISIS commander Abu Sayyaf in #Syria’; it is the ‘first material proof that #ISIS is engaged in #antiquity trade’. And it demonstrates several features of the trade all at once.

There have been a lot of updates, which are here, but I consider whether this was Abu Sayyaf’s stash and where it might have been assembled more fully (or more coherently) in an update-summarising follow-up post.

In a further follow-up, I’ve reassessed the balance of antiquities and forgeries. I believe that most of Abu Sayyaf’s stash comprised ancient coins.

[I’m working on a huge update based on the U.S. State Department Cultural Heritage Center’s summary and photo gallery of the ISIL leader’s loot.]

June 9, 2015

According to antiquities trade lobbyist Peter Tompa, ‘you can’t find [coins] without a metal detectors’.

On the question of why a lobbyist would characterise cooperation between archaeologists and tradespeople as a frenzy among archaeologists, the lobbyist in question says that it was ‘humor/satire/irony‘. A work of auto-parody? But he has said something else even more curious…

June 5, 2015

Well-read and well dead: the Islamic State archaeology book club – day one

Yesterday, after @hasavrat spotted it in Mehmet Nuri Ekinci’s report, I appealed for help in identifying an archaeology-related book, which Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) had confiscated from Turkish Islamic State fighters in Syria. Thanks to a lot of help from a lot of people – there’s a less incomplete list of all of the people who have contributed to this effort in the original post – we now know something about that book and more besides…

June 4, 2015

YPG confiscated a numismatic(?) book from Turkish Islamic State fighters in Syria. Do you recognise it?

When Mehmet Nuri Ekinci reported that Kurdish People’s Defence Units (YPG) had conducted an operation against Turkish Islamic State fighters in Syria, he published photographs of confiscated equipment, and @hasavrat noticed that it included a book that documented ancient coins. [There is an update on all three books.]

April 17, 2015

The WCO did not claim to have evidence that church icons had been stolen in Kosovo and sold to finance terrorism

I checked the report with the World Customs Organisation and the WCO told me that it had not claimed to have evidence of a trade in conflict antiquities from the unrest in Kosovo in 2004. At the same time, particularly where there is an established link between organised crime (such as heroin trafficking) and paramilitary violence, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

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