Does Your Favorite Museum Fund Terror?
December 11th, 2005

Matthew Bogdanos, a Marine Reserves colonel and an assistant district attorney in Manhattan, has an op-ed piece in the New York Times about the underground market of priceless artifacts, and how it funds terrorists.

Currently serving in Iraq, he talks about terrorist’s “underground bunkers filled with automatic weapons, ammunition stockpiles, black uniforms, ski masks, night-vision goggles … and 30 vases, cylinder seals and statuettes that had been stolen from the Iraq Museum.” He thinks that “as a cash source for the terrorists, it ranks just below kidnappings for ransom and on a par with forced donations from local residents and merchants.”

As a solution, he proposes a multi-faceted approach including stepped up funding in relevant countries for theft prevention, more international attention and cooperation, and the cultural foundations’ financial assistance for art-theft squads.

Cultural institutions need a strict uniform code of conduct that clarifies the documentation and diligence required for an artifact to change hands legally, Bagdanos says. Failing that, he says, Congress should mandate it.

In the introduction to his piece, he cites an incident with the Metropolitan Museum of New York, who is in talks with Italian officials for being in possession of stolen Italian antiquities.

He vows to “return to the Manhattan district attorney’s office early next year and head the city’s first task force dedicated to investigating and prosecuting antiquities theft and trafficking.”

By on December 11, 2005, 12:52 am
In category: Arts,Crime & Safety,Law | 2 Comments »

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