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Thursday, March 29, 2018

[VIDEO] A First: Police Make Antiquities Trafficking Arrests in Terrorist Financing Case

Police have arrested two men in Barcelona, Spain for their alleged role in financing ISIS terrorism by acquiring and selling blood antiquities.

Georgi Kantchev of The Wall Street Journal reported that "Spanish police are holding two men suspected of trading in antiquities looted by groups linked to Islamic State, the first publicly announced detentions by Western authorities working to dismantle the terrorist group’s trade in plundered art."

The Ministerio del Interior issued a statement explaining that the men, both Spanish nationals and antiquities experts, were detained on crimes of terrorist financing, belonging to a criminal organization, receiving stolen property, smuggling, and falsification of documents.

Video courtesy of Policia Nacional, Ministerio del Interior, Government of Spain.

"The detainees were part of a network based in Catalonia and international branches dedicated to the acquisition and sale of works of historical-archaeological value from territories that were under siege from groups related to the organization, DAESH," the ministry revealed. DAESH is the Arabic acronym for ISIS.

Authorities raided locations in Barcelona and Argentona, including a conservation laboratory, warehouse, and art gallery. Cultural heritage material seized included mosaics, sarcophagi and Egyptian artifacts. Some of the objects originated from the Libyan region of Cyrenaica, which ISIS controlled from 2011 through 2016.

"Since the end of 2014, the main detainee and expert in ancient art, had woven a network of suppliers around the world that allowed access to archaeological pieces of various civilizations," the ministry alleged, adding that officials first detected the operation in October 2016 after noticing improprieties in import records.

The interior ministry reported that some of the objects "showed imperfections, bumps and marks that indicated violent extraction of the subsoil, without the use of adequate archaeological techniques," pointing out that the suspects "were responsible for a restoration process that would erase these signs as far as possible."

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