Spain: Police rumble art fraudsters financing IS in Barcelona

March 29, 2018

The National Police of Spain dismantled a criminal network in Barcelona on Wednesday that sold stolen pieces from Libya in Spain to finance the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS; formerly ISIS/ISIL). The ringleaders who were arrested are two Spanish art collectors in their thirties.


They were dedicated to the acquisition and sale of works of historical and archaeological value plundered from territories under siege by the extremist group. The country's interior ministry said that the network was established in 2014. The network first caught the attention of authorities in 2016, when officials found that a number of art pieces that were said to be from Asia or the Middle East actually originated from Cyrenaica in Libya. Officials say it is the world's first operation against the theft of art pieces in territories under IS control.



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