House bill targets ISIS profits from cultural destruction
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The House passed legislation on Monday to help prevent the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) from reaping profits from damage to cultural heritage sites.

Passed by voice vote, the measure would restrict U.S. imports on archaeological material from Syria. A similar ban is already in effect for Iraq.

Lawmakers said the measure would limit the ability of ISIS to wipe reminders of history from the face of the Earth and make monetary profits in the process by selling ancient artifacts on the black market. 

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"These are not random acts of vandalism. We're witnessing a deliberate campaign to attempt to rewrite world history," said Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and author of the bill. "We need to cut off the source of funding and, at the same time, work to preserve this imperiled cultural history."

ISIS has deliberately annihilated historical sites located in war zones as a means of terrorism and cultural cleansing. Destroyed ancient ruins include the prophet Jonah’s tomb in Mosul, the Assyrian capital of Nimrud and the stone sculptures in the Mosul Museum. ISIS militants have used bombs, sledgehammers and bulldozers to obliterate them.

"It’s no exaggeration to say the history of civilization is under attack," said House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.), who noted that ISIS militants might be earning up to $100 million annually from selling smuggled artifacts.

In addition, the bill would require the State Department to create a position to coordinate federal government efforts to protect international cultural artifacts. The official, to be known as the coordinator for international cultural property protection, would manage initiatives between federal agencies and develop strategies to reduce cultural property theft.