Sunday, March 01, 2015

ISIL providing cover for Israeli looting of priceless antiquities by Wayne Madsen

ISIL providing cover for Israeli looting of priceless antiquities

The scenes are all-too-familiar in the Middle East. Jihadists witnessed destroying priceless artifacts in Arab museums and libraries. However, documenting a few vases of artifacts being destroyed actually masks the looting of these artifacts and their sale on an international black market with Israelis usually serving as the middlemen or ultimate buyers for their private collections.

Videos have appeared on the Internet showing Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) -- we prefer this term as does the United States government because it accurately reflects the similarity of the name to ISIL's main state sponsor - "Israel" -- jihadists taking sledgehammers and chain saws to ancient Assyrian artifacts at the Mosul museum in Iraq. In addition, ancient Assyrian churches in northeastern Syria are being ransacked and looted with priceless Christian artifacts and Assyrian language manuscripts written in Aramaic, the language of Jesus, feared sold by ISIL on the black market.

Although ISIL videos show jihadists destroying an Assyrian winged lion and a relief of a face, priceless archaeological finds from the Assyrian palace of King Sennacherib are believed to have been sold to black marketers just as other artifacts looted from museums and ruins in Egypt, Babylon, Libya, Syria, Pakistan, and Yemen have been sold to unscrupulous dealers of stolen antiquities, many of whom are based in Israel.

On January 31, 2011, WMR reported: "One thing is always true of the kleptocratic syndicate that runs Israel: never let a crisis go to waste. The 'made for television' looting of the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo, a museum established in 1902 to stem the tide of the systematic theft of Egyptian historical artifacts and relics by unscrupulous western nations, including Britain, may have masked the behind-the-scenes pillaging of artifacts located in museum store rooms, well-beyond the view of visitors." On February 14, 2011, WMR followed up our report: ". . .18 priceless artifacts were stolen from the Cairo museum on January 28, at the outset Egyptian revolution. Reports from Cairo indicate the thieves who stole the artifacts, after repelling from ropes through a broken window on the museum's roof, knew exactly what to steal."

This editor has tracked the systematic looting of Middle Eastern antiquities by suspected Israeli "hit teams" since 2003. After the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, U.S. troops stood idly by while professional teams of museum thieves made off with priceless artifacts from Iraq's National Museum in Baghdad. Some 170,000 priceless artifacts dating back thousands of years to the very cradle of human civilization in the Tigris-Euphrates Valley, the fabled home of the biblical Garden of Eden, were looted. Only a few were destroyed in a perception management operation to make it appear that most were simply destroyed,just as is the case in Mosul and northeastern Syria.

On February 14, 2011, WMR followed up with details of the looting that occurred during the "Egyptian Spring" riots: "Reports from Cairo confirm that among the artifacts stolen were a limestone statue of Pharaoh Akhenaten; a sandstone head of a princess from Amarna; a stone statuette of a scribe from Amarna; eleven wooden statuettes of Yuya, an 18th dynasty figure; a statue of Queen Nefertiti; and two statues, one gilded, of boy king Tutankhamun. Another secure artifact storage site within the royal necropolis at Dahshur, south of Cairo, was also broken into."

Artifacts from the Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo, including those from the Umayyad, Abbasid, Tulunid, Fatimid, Ayubid, Mameluk and Ottoman eras, also ended up in the hands of black marketers, with many ending up in private hands in Israel or among Jewish fences in Europe.

On August 21, 2007, WMR reported on the Israeli connection to the looting in the Arab countries: "The Israeli media is reporting that Chief Superintendent Asher Ben-Artzi, the chief of Israel's INTERPOL branch, is under official police investigation for using his contacts at the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem to help wanted criminals in Israel obtain visas to visit the United States . . . It is also being reported that Ben-Artzi is under investigation for receiving stolen "relics."

Even the hopelessly Zionist-oriented Jerusalem Post reported the following at the time: "Cmdr. Asher Ben-Artzi's office in Jerusalem has Artifacts spanning thousands of years - including clay pitchers, an ossuary and a collection of wood pipes - cover every surface of the spacious room, creating an atmosphere more suited to that of a museum than of the National Police Headquarters."
On August 17, 2007, WMR reported, ". . . the looting of Iraqi treasures has been surgical and accomplished by outsiders who know in advance what they wish to obtain. Arab interlocutors based in Beirut, Geneva, London, Saudi Arabia, and Dubai are laundering money made from the looting of Iraqi artifacts. Much of the money is being used to fund various right-wing and neocon causes in the United States, Europe, and other regions."
We can also add to this report that Israel has been one of the destinations for a number of stolen artifacts and relics from Iraq, especially relics that have historical significance dating from the 'Babylonian Captivity' of the Biblical-era Jewish people."

After the overthrow of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, the Israeli gangsters showed up on the scene to pick clean wanted artifacts from the Al-Jamahiriyah National Museum in Tripoli, Roman and Phoenician ruins around the country, and smaller museums in cities like Benghazi and Sirte. Israeli and American pressure have prevented the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) from pursuing the perpetrators of the looting and the ultimate purchasers of the stolen Libyan artifacts from the Neolithic, Berber, Garamantian, Phoenician, Punic, Greek, Roman and Byzantine eras, as well as looted artifacts from Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and Yemen. The theft of the Libyan artifacts even included stealing prehistoric cave paintings in the Acacus Mountains, artwork dated at 14,000 years old. Highly professional teams of looters pressed silk cloth soaked in a special chemical solution on to the rock frescoes with the paint lifting from the walls and sticking to the cloth.

Other professional teams of looters, linked to Israel, hit the Abyan Museum in Zinjibar, Yemen. "Al Qaeda" leveled the museum but not before teams of looters picked the museum clean of hundreds of antiquities. It is feared that the National Museum in Sana'a suffered similar looting during recent fighting in the capital.

The same network of looters cleaned out museums in Syria. UNESCO reported that
"a group posing as security personnel removed a number of crates containing significant archaeological objects from the [Raqqa] museum’s warehouse under the false pretext of moving the crates to a secure storage facility." Such professional "lightning strikes" are a hallmark of the Israeli looting teams and in the case of Raqqa the looting took place under the eyes of ISIL. Similar professional teams struck the Museum of Folklore in Hama that saw the theft of priceless glassware, Baghdadi daggers, spears and other irreplaceable items. The Maarrat Museum was stormed by an armed group that looted small clay dolls and statues.

It is doubtful that any member of the Israel-centric U.S. Congress will mention Israel's central role in stealing thousands of artifacts when Binyamin Netanyahu comes calling.