Lecture: Blood Antiquities
Tomb Raiders and Terrorist Financing: Cutting off the Islamic State’s Illicit Traffic in “Blood Antiquities”
Annual Cultural Heritage Seminar on October 15, 2015, 9 am – 12 noon
U.S. District Court – Eastern District of Louisiana
500 Poydras Street, Rm. C-501, New Orleans
Organisers: Federal Bar Association and the Antiquities Coalition
With the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the world rightfully asked how a militant faction too extreme for Al-Qaeda transformed itself into “the world’s richest terror group ever.” How?
ISIS jihadists earn millions by looting the region’s archaeological sites, and then selling its ancient treasures to the highest bidder.
In the last year alone, we have lost some of the Cradle of Civilization’s most iconic masterpieces and sites, many of which had survived for millennia. This threatens us all: at this moment, ISIS is converting these “blood antiquities” into weapons and troops, which are seizing cities, slaughtering soldiers, and beheading civilians.
Join the Federal Bar Association to explore this growing threat to our national security and the world’s cultural heritage. A distinguished panel of archaeologists, lawyers, journalists, and military officials will expose this illicit industry, tracing the path of looted masterpieces from the war zones of Mesopotamia to the very heights of the global market. They will also explore how United States and international law is seeking to cut off this key means of terrorist financing, including recent action by the U.S. Congress and United Nations Security Council.
Amr Al-Azm, an Associate Professor of Middle East History at Shawnee State University, was a Professor at the University of Damascus from 1998 to 2006 and Director of Science and Conservation Laboratories at the Syrian Department of Antiquities and Museums from 1999-2004. He is working with the so-called Syrian “Monuments Men” to document the looting and destruction of cultural heritage in the region, and has been a key advocate for United Nations Security Council action to combat the illicit trade.
Matthew Bogdanos is an assistant district attorney in Manhattan and author of Thieves of Baghdad (with William Patrick). As a colonel in the Marine reserves with five combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, he led the recovery team into the Baghdad Museum after its looting in the early days of the U.S. Iraq invasion.
Tess Davis, Executive Director of the Antiquities Coalition, is an archaeologist and lawyer affiliated with the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research. She has been a legal consultant for the Cambodian and U.S. governments on antiquities looting and trafficking. She has written on the topic for Foreign Policy, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times,and CNN, as well as many scholarly publications.
David Marcello, Executive Director of Tulane University Law School’s Public Law Center, is a recognized expert legislative drafting and legal reform. Since 1995, he has organized and conducted the Legislative Drafting Institute at Tulane, training lawyers and non-lawyers alike from around the world.