June 7, 2023

TSC Webinar: Protecting Cultural Heritage and Soft Targets

14 June 2023
10:00 – 11:00 AM EST

On June 14, 2023 TSC hosted a webinar on Protecting Cultural Heritage and Soft Targets, organized in partnership with Gonzaga in Florence and the U.S. Consulate General Florence. The phenomenon of targeting or exploiting cultural heritage is often used by illicit actors, including terrorists, to further their agendas, either to validate their narratives or for financial gain, and to marginalize and stigmatize communities. The 2001 destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas by the Taliban, Islamic State’s destruction of historic cultural sites like Palmyra, Syria, and the attacks and destruction of mausoleums in Timbuktu, Mali, by Ansar Dine and AQIM, for example, all exemplify the targeting of cultural heritage by terrorist groups. These attacks highlight that beyond a financial incentive, the destruction of cultural heritage strengthens the narratives and propaganda of illicit groups and creates new vulnerabilities for “soft targets.”

Against the backdrop of the 30th anniversary of the bombing at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, as well as ongoing discussions in international organizations, such as the United Nations, this TSC webinar, organized in partnership with Gonzaga University in Florence and the United States Consulate General in Florence, aimed to raise awareness about the multidimensional aspects of the targeting of cultural heritage, highlight the importance of cross-sector partnerships in protecting cultural heritage and soft targets, and elicit lessons learned and good practices to protect cultural heritage and soft targets.


Introductory Remarks

Naureen Chowdhury Fink, Executive Director, The Soufan Center

Jason Houston, Dean & Associate Professor of Italian, Gonzaga University in Florence



Omar Mohammed, Founder, Mosul Eye

Alesia Koush, Researcher, RASHID International & Camnes

Elena Franchi, Art Historian & Journalist



Jason Blazakis, Senior Research Fellow, The Soufan Center