A few weeks back the ISIS smashed statues at a museum at the Assyrian city of Nimrud. Several pre Islamic monuments were smashed and videos of the same were circulated all over the internet.
The world watched these videos with the same horror when the Taliban in Afghanistan had several years ago broken the giant Buddha statues.
While these terror groups make it appear as though they are breaking down historic monuments as they oppose anything that is anti Islam, the reality is that only few monuments are broken for public consumption while the rest are sold to raise funds.
Art smuggling only third to drug and arms sale
It is a fact that terror groups over the years have raised funds by selling ancient art. In the year 1999 Mohammad Atta one of the masterminds of the 9/11 attack had made a trip to Germany to sell stolen Afghan antiques in a bid to raise funds. He had in fact taken pictures of the looted antiques and passed it on to an art smuggler and also told him about the location the loot could be picked up from.
Art smuggling has always been a major source of funding for a terror group. Groups such as the Al-Qaeda and the ISIS seize control over areas and first attack the ancient art museums. They destroy a few for the videos and photographs and the rest they steal and sell it in the international market.
In several occasions it has been found that art is looted and sold to international smugglers. It has in fact been the highest grosser of money after arms and drug trade for terrorist groups.
ISIS analyses art before destroying
The ISIS before destroying art first undertakes a survey of the museum in question. An art smuggler is brought in to value the art. It is only those artifacts which have no or very less value which are destroyed.
The rest of the art which fetches very high value are never touched. They seize complete control over the museum and shift the high value art out of there. They leave behind only the art with less value.
The cameras are then brought in and videos of them destroying the lesser valued art are shot. A strong message of how the art is anti Islamic is then circulated along with the videos. A classic case of hypocrisy.
Why is the world so late in reacting?
Destruction of art museums and stealing valuable artifacts has been going on for the past 15 years now. However there is not much reaction to the art smuggling that takes place although it is a well known fact that this problem exists.
The problem is that none have been able to put a real value to the transaction made by these terrorist groups. Unlike the arms or drugs trade the art smuggling is still an enigma in terms of value. The money raised from smuggling of arts varies depending on the demand and also the buyer.
In addition to this terrorists also have been evacuating tombs and monuments, the existence of which is not known to many. The arts that are looted land up in individual homes of art collectors and hence it becomes extremely difficult to track.