Smuggler Speaks Out About ISIS' Operation to Sell Artifacts From Palmyra

Damage to a site in Palmyra during ISIS' occupation is extensive, an expert says

ISIS has been busy selling off cultural treasures looted from one of the centers of the ancient world, even as Syrian forces celebrated the recapture of Palmyra, a UNESCO world heritage site.

An ISIS smuggler, who asked to be identified only as Abu Mustafa, spoke to NBC News in detail about the antiquities trade in which he was involved. In a scheme set up by senior members of ISIS, the man was smuggling artifacts into Turkey, where he was selling them on the black market for the terror group.

According to Abu Mustafa, the buyers were German, French and even Americans, who paid as much as $6,000 per piece. He said only a few artifacts have hit the marketplace, but warned that more will follow. NBC News could not verify any of those claims.

The damage to an archaeological site in Palmyra during the 10-month ISIS occupation is extensive, with some areas having been blown up, damaged or destroyed, according to an expert.

Contact Us