Trafficking of ancient art to the West used to fund ISIS

Ancient temples in Libya

 ROME -- Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano has confirmed that the trafficking of ancient art smuggled by ISIS into the West, is being exchanged for arms and being used to finance ISIS, with possible involvement of Italian Camorra and ‘Ndrangheta Mafia, ‘La Stampa’ wrote Monday.

 A ‘Stampa’ journalist, Domenico Quirico, went to Naples to investigate the situation, posing as a potential art buyer -- a rich art collector from Turin -- in a meeting with an Italian black market art dealer of these works brought over by ISIS.

 “Where does this head come from? This comes from Libya. Weapons in exchange for statues, amphorae, urns -- it works like that…The products arrive to Gioia Tauro. Once it was here in Naples, but then something changed. Now there are problems, so many problems with these damned migrants, the Libyan Sea is full of boats, controls, police. Would you like objects from the Middle East? We also have those but the prices are a lot more expensive and you would have to go directly to Gioia Tauro in Calabria…And I would not recommend it,” said the dealer to Quirico.

 For the head of the statue, they were asking for one million euros. Who knows what the “more expensive” objects in Reggio Calabria might cost. Again, this shows a possible alliance between the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta Mafia and ISIS, with probable links to the Neapolitan Camorra.

 However, it is not yet known whether these mafia groups are involved as a whole organization, or whether this just bears testimony to the involvement of a few individuals, ‘La Stampa’ reported.

 Up until recently, the clients for the art were American museums and private collectors. However, when it was found out that the money was used to buy arms for ISIS, the Americans cut off all relations. Now the clients tend to be from Russia, China, Japan and the United Arab Emirates.

 The Italian Interior Minister Alfano said that “monitoring, preventions and investigations are underway,” in order to confirm these hypotheses.