Italian Mafia Trades Arms-for-Art With ISIS in Libya

Still from supposed Islamic State video showing militants destroying artifacts in Iraq's Unesco World Heritage city of Hatra.
Still from supposed Islamic State video showing militants destroying artifacts in Iraq's Unesco World Heritage city of Hatra.
(YouTube)

Domenico Quirico, a journalist from La Stampa newspaper, recently went undercover as an art collector to expose how looted antiquities are being traded in support of ISIS. Italy’s Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta, working with the Neapolitan Camorra criminal gang, has an illicit art-for-weapons ring with jihadists that has been very active for months in Southern Italy.

Daily Beast's Barbie Latza Nadeau writes, "...Italian criminal gangs reportedly acquire the artifacts from jihadi tomb raiders in Libya in exchange for a wide range of weaponry, including Kalashnikov rifles and rocket-propelled grenades that the Camorra have in great supply from a long-standing arms-trafficking racket with Russia, Moldova, and the Ukraine."

The loot is "brought into Italy on Chinese-flagged cargo ships coming from Sirte to the Calabria port of Gioia Tauro" and then sold to unscrupulous private collectors.

On Monday, Interior Minister Angelino Alfano confirmed La Stampa’s reporting. “We have studied the ‘GDP of terror’ and we know that one of the components is the commercialization of stolen art,” he told reporters. “The stolen artifacts feed ISIS and contribute to the GDP of terror.”

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