June 14, 2024

Investigating and Prosecuting the Destruction, Looting, and Illicit Trade of Cultural Property Linked to Terrorism

On June 12, 2024, The Soufan Center co-organized an event in New York with the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the Permanent Missions of Norway and France to the United Nations. The event explored the investigating and prosecuting the destruction, looting, and illicit trade of cultural property linked to terrorism. Founder Ali Soufan delivered opening remarks for the event and emphasized the need to end terrorists’ impunity for this crime and other human rights abuses. Research Analyst Michaela Millender was a speaker at the event and presented on international accountability mechanisms and prosecutions for the destruction of cultural heritage by terrorist actors, including trafficking in antiquities. Her presentation was based on her TSC Issue Brief: “Identities Destroyed, Histories Revised: The Targeting of Cultural Heritage and Soft Targets by Illicit Actors.”

Other speakers included: Nicole El Khoury, Senior Legal Officer at CTED; Dr. Ahmed Aubais Alfatlawi, Professor at the University of Kufa; Dr. Anya Neistat, Legal Director of The Docket, Clooney Foundation for Justice; Leslie Rodrigues Backschies, Special Agent in Charge of the Criminal Investigative Division of the New York Office, FBI; Maj. Gen. Francesco Gargaro, Commander of the Carabinieri for the Protection of Cultural Heritage; Corinne Muller, Program Manager at the Penn Cultural Heritage Center.