Saturday 6 July 2013

Does the Illicit Antiquities Trade Fund Terrorist Groups?

Peter Campbell ("How Crime, Corruption, and Murder Are Hidden in the Elusive Black Market Stages of Antiquities Trafficking", Archaeology Blog July 4, 2013) describes the trafficking of Afghan antiquities summarising his longer account (Page 121) and addresses the question of whether this trade in antiquities funds groups related to the Taliban or Al Qaeda. He suggests that the Taliban is not involved with the antiquities before they leave Afghanistan, but they do get a cut.
The two major smuggling organizations are Hezb-i-Islami and the Haqqani network, who work closely with the Taliban. In fact, the Haqqani network is recognized as the most dangerous insurgent group in Afghanistan and is considered the Taliban’s chief ally [...]  the bulk of Afghan antiquities money goes to early stage intermediaries in the region and late stage intermediaries in transit or market countries, meaning that the Haqqani network and other smugglers may receive a significant amount through antiquities. [...] businessmen smuggling commodities in collaboration with the Haqqani network pay a tax to the Taliban to operate safely, “one Afghan source explained how the Taliban profits from illicit antiquities, stating ‘businessmen who smuggle precious stone, sculptures and other historic artifacts. . .pay dues to the Taliban to avoid trouble on road’” (Campbell 2013: 121). Based on currently available sources, this tax appears to be the only source of funding for the Taliban related to antiquities, though all commodities smuggled across the border are a facet of the arms trade that supplies the Taliban.”
As far as Al Qaeda goes, Campbell finds little evidence that Al Qaeda has direct funding from antiquities sales.

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