WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley today praised unanimous committee passage of a bill substantially similar to a bill he co-sponsored to restrict the ability of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to profit from the sale of looted antiquities.
“We need to destroy ISIS rather than support its funding,” Grassley said. “This bill will help by restricting the import of items to the United States. It’s a small but important step in hampering the ability of ISIS terrorists to profit from the sale of looted antiquities.”
The Committee on Foreign Relations passed a measure that gives the federal government the authority to impose import restrictions on Syrian antiquities, waiving the provisions of current law that require a request from the country of origin. The bill is similar to the Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act that Grassley and Sens. Bob Casey and David Perdue introduced last year. The committee-passed bill is based on a partner bill passed by the House of Representatives.
Grassley’s statement submitted to the committee record follows here.
Statement of Senator Charles E. Grassley
Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act
Business Meeting of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
January 28, 2016
Chairman Corker, Ranking Member Cardin, Members of the Committee:
I’d like to thank this Committee for taking up the “Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act.” This bill is critically important to ensure that the Administration has the authority to impose import restrictions on antiquities from Syria, which is a key source of funding for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
I joined Senator Casey and Senator Perdue to introduce a Senate companion to the House bill that would place trade restrictions against the importation of looted archeological and ethnological materials. It’s a similar measure to one that I won enactment of in 2003 when Iraq’s antiquities were being looted.
The brutal and barbaric acts carried out by ISIS are beyond comprehension. The senseless and inhumane brutality these individuals carried out against innocents is truly shocking and disgraceful. ISIS has executed thousands, including women and children. Many more have been kidnapped, enslaved, abused and raped.
ISIS is also destroying and selling the archeological heritage that has survived for thousands of years. It’s reprehensible that there are people engaged in a black market to buy these artifacts, thereby underwriting this brutal Islamist militant group.
The chaos and disorder in Syria and Iraq have opened the door to opportunists who wish to enrich themselves in dealing with stolen and looted antiquities. The least we can do, here in Congress, is shut down the U.S. market for these artifacts. Americans should not be underwriting brutality.
We need to put an end to the destruction and looting of irreplaceable artifacts and historical records like those from the Mosul Museum, Nineveh, and Nimrud. These objects are a material record of humanity.
We need to destroy ISIS rather than support its funding. This bill will help by restricting the import of items to the United States. It’s a small but important step in hampering the ability of ISIS terrorists to profit from the sale of looted antiquities.
I strongly support this bill and encourage members of this committee to support it as well. Thank you.