Iraqi authorities take action against theft and smuggling of antiquities by ISIS in Nineveh Governorate

MOSUL, Iraq — According to Judge Raed Hamid al-Musleh, the head of the Nineveh Court of Appeal, Iraq’s Nineveh Governorate has suffered significant losses due to theft and smuggling of antiquities by the Islamic State (ISIS). However, the Nineveh Investigation Court and the Organized Crime Directorate of the Intelligence Agency have developed a mechanism, plans, and programs to combat the illegal trade of artifacts.

This joint effort involved coordination with the Nineveh Antiquities and Heritage Inspectorate to create a catalog of stolen artifacts, which was then sent to the Directorate for Combating Organized Crime in Baghdad for circulation among all directorates for combating organized crime in the governorates. The goal is to recover the stolen antiquities and arrest the traffickers responsible, as per al-Musleh.

The judge added that the Organized Crime Directorate is actively pursuing and arresting antiquities dealers, seizing traded artifacts, and providing relevant authorities with information and studies on stolen antiquities. By doing so, looted antiquities from around the world can be recovered.

Al-Musleh also revealed that the trafficking and smuggling of antiquities took place through two main transit corridors in Turkey and Syria. ISIS would use bulldozers to uncover archaeological sites before smuggling and selling the antiquities in global markets through intermediaries, earning large sums of money in the process.