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ISIS digging up past to finance terrorism

ISIS digging up past to finance terrorism

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ISIS, sometimes referred to as ISIL, is digging up images of the past in Syria.

They market and sell these archeological antiquities to finance their terror operations. The U.S. Department of Justice announced last December that the United States filed a civil complaint seeking the forfeiture of multiple antiquities associated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Photos of four specific archaeological items were found in a raid by U.S. military near Deir Ezzor, Syria in May 2015 at one of the residences of Abu Sayyaf, a senior leader within Burr ISIL. Abu Sayyaf was killed.

The lawsuit alleges the photographed items are subject to forfeiture. It is believed one may have already been sold.

The items include a gold ring with a carved dark green gemstone from the Hellenistic/Roman period dating approximately from 330 BC to 400 AD. There is a gold coin featuring Emperor Antoninus Pius believed to be Roman. The coin dates from around 138-161 A.D. It is sourced to any large, urban Hellenistic or Roman city in Syria, including Apamea, Palmyra, Dura Euopos or Bosra. Another gold coin features Emperor Hadrian. It is believed to be Roman dating around 125-128 AD.

The fourth item is believed to be the upper portion of a round-topped stone stela (upright stone slab bearing a relief design) carved with an image of a provincial official, most likely a eunuch. The item is believed to be from the archaeological site of Tell Awaji in the Kabul region of northern Syria.

These antiquities are important to the cultural heritage of the people of Syria and Iraq.

Documents reveal that ISIL specifically directed its members to steal archaeological objects for purposes of selling them on the black market to support ISIL. The terror group has threatened anyone attempting to excavate, sell or transport antiquities from the territory under their control.

OK, so what territories does ISIL control? This is where it gets confusing. Some authors argue that to call the terrorist group ISIL is incorrect. We are threatened by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which is ISIS. Referring to it as ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq, and the Levant, makes the group seem more powerful than it is. The Levant, according to Frank Mitchell in his book, “Surviving ISIS,” “is a curious, antiquated word that was first used in the late 5th century to describe Eastern Mediterranean lands which today encompass Israel, Jordan, Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Turkey and Cyprus.

President Obama, in 2013, began referring to the terrorist group as ISIL. Critics find that reference confounding. We cannot ascribe that territory to them.

Most of ISIS controlled territory has always been in Iraq and Syria. A “caliphate” in the “Levant” is just a dream.

ISIS is not just an Islamic terrorist group; it has plans for world domination.

They want to come over here and disrupt our way of life.

The FBI is asking the public to come forward with any information they may have about stolen art or cultural heritage Items. Tips can be submitted to In addition, the U.S. Department of State’s Rewards for Justice program is offering rewards for information that will disrupt the trade of trafficking of antiquities that benefit ISIS. The Secretary of State has authorized a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the significant disruption of the sale and/or trade of antiquities by, for or on behalf of ISIS.

Marlene Gantt, of Port Byron, is a retired Rock Island school teacher.


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