Italian mafia is providing Libya’s IS with weapons in return of ancient artefacts

  • Libyan Express + Agencies |
  • Monday 17 October 2016

Islamic State fighters traffic ancient artefacts that they have dug up illegally in Libya in return for armaments.

The Italian mafia is selling rifles and other forms of weapons to IS leaders in Libya, Italian newspaper, La Stampa has reported.

The Italian newspaper said Monday that the Italian mafia is giving IS weapons in return for looted archaeological treasures and artefacts.

“After getting them from Libya, the suspected Ndrangheta gangsters sell on the priceless artefacts to Russian and Asian collectors.” La Stampa added.

It also indicated that the Calabrian network, which dominates Europe’s drug trade, works with the Camorra in Naples to buy Kalashnikov rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers smuggled out of Ukraine and Moldova by the Russian mafia.

“The arms are then traded in return for ancient Roman and Greek statues that IS fighters have dug up illegally in Libya.” La Stampa proceeded.

It is worth noting that IS ruled over many archeological sites in Libya for months, especially Sabratha and its ancient seaside city before it had been eradicated from it months ago.

“A journalist from La Stampa posed as a collector to be taken to a salami factory in southern Italy by a member of an ‘Ndrangheta clan from Lamezia in Calabria. For $87,000 he was offered the marble head of a Roman sculpture looted from Libya.” The newspaper said, adding that the Mafioso also showed photographs of a larger head from a Greek statue, for sale at $1.2 million.

“Antiquities are brought from Libya to the Calabrian port of Gioia Tauro by Chinese-operated cargo ships, it is claimed. The treasures are sold on to collectors from Russia, China, Japan and the Gulf. After expanding into Libya, IS has been pinned back by local militias. The IS radicals, however, are believed to have tried to profit from trafficking in artefacts, as they have done in Iraq and Syria.” Reported the Australian from the La Stampa newspaper.

It explained that Libyan archaeologists have been working to protect the country’s five UNESCO-listed sites and yet they have received death threats. Italian investigators have long suspected the mafia of selling guns to IS.

The Italian newspaper also stated that the gangsters have also been involved in the wholesale looting of Etruscan Roman tombs in Italy. Trading guns for artefacts with IS is a natural evolution of its business. The widespread excavation and selling of Greek and Roman treasures boomed in Libya after the death in 2011 of Colonel Gaddafi, well before the arrival of IS.

A rare 4ft marble statue believed to have been dug up in the ancient city of Cyrene in 2011 and worth $3.2 million was found in a west London warehouse two years after the uprising, the Australian reported.

Azara Media

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