WASHINGTON, DC - In light of new reports that ISIS has looted and trafficked priceless gold statues, Hebrew scrolls, and ancient coins to fund its campaign of terror, Representative Eliot L. Engel, the top Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today renewed his call for Senate action on his legislation to crack down on this source of funding for the terror group. The Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act (HR 1493) would impose new import restrictions on artifacts looted from Syria and enhance coordination of U.S. Government efforts to protect cultural property.

“It’s outrageous that ISIS continues to fund its campaign of violence by trafficking these irreplaceable artifacts. It’s past time that the United States steps up to meet this challenge, just as we have in the past,” said Rep. Engel. “I urge Senate leaders to take up my legislation and get it to the President’s desk.”

Representative Engel’s legislation unanimously passed the House last week. The bill would impose new import restrictions on cultural artifacts removed from Syria. Similar restrictions were enacted in 2004 with respect to Iraqi antiquities. The legislation would provide exceptions to allow artifacts to enter the United States for protection and restoration. Restrictions would remain in effect until the crisis in Syria is resolved and America is able to work with a new Syrian government to protect cultural property from trafficking under a bilateral agreement, in accordance with America’s national interests.

The bill would also establish a new inter-agency body and coordinator role to enhance coordination among government agencies, including the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, already working on cultural preservation issues. It would also take steps to enhance Congressional oversight of this issue.


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