FBI to art dealers: Watch out for pieces sold by Islamic State

By Tomas Monzon   |   Updated Aug. 27, 2015 at 2:44 PM
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 27 (UPI) -- The Federal Bureau of Investigation published an alert Thursday aimed at art dealers, urging them to be on the lookout for pieces that may have been put on the market by the Islamic State.

In addition to violent attacks, IS has been destroying and stealing pieces from archaeological sites in Syria and Iraq.

The FBI wants the art community to be wary of buying looted pieces to avoid monetarily supporting IS activities. It also warned that buying pieces from Syria and Iraq region could constitute a federal crime.

Bonnie Magness-Gardiner, the manager of the FBI's art program, said Wednesday collectors and buyers should pay close attention to the documents accompanying art pieces on sale.

Satellite images distributed by the State Department are evidence that the IS has destroyed large-scale historical sites in Syria. The group publicly beheaded a scholar in Syria last week after he refused to reveal the location of artifacts. The group also destroyed an ancient temple in the historical city of Palmyra.

In July, the U.S. returned art to Iraq that it claims was seized in a raid on IS fighters in Syria. The retrieval, it argues, is further proof that IS seeks to profit from the sale of such items.

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