A still from a video posted on a social media account affiliated with ISIS shows a militant using a power tool to destroy a winged-bull Assyrian protective deity at the Ninevah Museum in Mosul, Iraq. (AP Photo via militant social media account)
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The videos of ISIS militants destroying ancient artifacts in Iraq's museums and blowing up 3,000-year-old temples are chilling enough, but one of Iraq's top antiquities officials is now saying the destruction is a cover for an even more sinister activity -- the systematic looting of Iraq's cultural heritage.While there is no firm evidence of the amount of money being made by the ISIS from looting antiquities, satellite photos and anecdotal evidence confirm widespread plundering of archaeological sites in areas under IS control.U.S. investigators at the time said Al-Qaeda was funding its activities with illicit sales of antiquities.International bans make the ultimate sale of illicit antiquities difficult, but not impossible.Iraq has sent lists to the International Council of Museums, the U.N. and Interpol detailing all the artifacts that might have been looted from the museum in Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city overrun by IS last June.
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