Grassley Addresses ISIS’ Looting of Antiquities, Presses Need for Pending Legislation
WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa today spoke at a forum of historical experts and educators on the looting of antiquities to fund ISIS and his bill with Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania to help stop the peddling of ill-gotten antiquities in the United States. The Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act (S. 1887/H.R. 1493) would improve coordination between U.S. government agencies on this issue and restrict the import of cultural property that was smuggled out of Syria since the beginning of the conflict there. This bill has already passed the House.
The text of Grassley’s remarks follows.
Remarks of Sen. Chuck Grassley
Forum, “Death of History: Witnessing Heritage Destruction in Syria and Iraq”
hosted by the Penn Cultural Heritage Center of the University of Pennsylvania Museum, the Smithsonian Institution, the American Association for the Advancement of Science,
and the U.S. Committee of the Blue Shield
Oct. 28, 2015
Thank you for this opportunity. I’d like to thank Senator Casey for his leadership on this issue. I’d also like to thank House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Royce and Ranking Member Engel for their leadership on the House side. I’d like to thank the University of Pennsylvania Museum, the Smithsonian Institution, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the U.S. Committee of the Blue Shield for their efforts.
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. It’s estimated that in the past year, ISIS has executed more than 3,000 people, including women and children. Many more have been kidnapped, enslaved, abused and raped.
It’s also an outrage that ISIS is destroying and selling the archeological heritage that has survived for thousands of years. It’s even more 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 has 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.
The atrocities require action on two fronts. First, 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.
Second, we need to destroy ISIS rather than support its funding. That’s why I worked with Senator Casey and Senator Purdue 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.
I thank you all for your help in bringing awareness to this critical issue. Together, I hope we can reduce the market for these exceptional antiquities, and stop the flow of funds to this ruthless group.