Trafficking in Antiquities

By Brigadier General (ret.) Russell D. Howard

Brigadier General (ret.) Russell D. Howard is the Director of the Monterey Terrorism Research and Education Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. Formerly, he was Director of the Jebsen Center for Counterterrorism Studies at the Fletcher School at Tufts University and the founding Director of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. His previous positions include Army Chief of Staff Fellow at the Center for International Affairs at Harvard University and Commander of the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) Fort Lewis, Washington.

Retired Brigadier General Russell Howard discussed ISIS’s involvement in antiquities trafficking with The Cipher Brief, explaining that ISIS taxes artifacts that are smuggled in territory it controls and even directly sells artifacts to antiquities traders on the black market. According to Howard, as the U.S. continues to target ISIS’s oil operations, ISIS has increased its involvement in the antiquities trade to make up for losses in oil profits.

The Cipher Brief: How much of ISIS’s budget comes from selling antiquities on the black market?

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