Afghanistan returned looted cultural artifacts in US
WASHINGTON (PAN): The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) returned five stolen gold artifacts and an ancient vase to Afghanistan in Washington a day earlier.
HSI Assistant Director for the Office of International Affairs John Connolly presented the objects to Afghan Ambassador to the United States, Eklil Hakimi.
“Afghanistan is a nation with a proud cultural heritage, and I’m delighted that HSI has been instrumental in returning to the Afghan people a long lost piece of their history that should have never been stolen,” Connolly said at the presentation ceremony.
“Today marks HSI’s fourth cultural repatriation to Afghanistan since 2005. We are committed to the continued cooperation between our countries and beating back this illicit trade through dedicated law enforcement efforts, partnerships and training thus preserving and protecting the world’s ancient and valued treasures.”
For his part, Hakimi said these items were national treasures which formed the country’s identity and distinguished Afghanistan from the rest of the world.
‘“We are grateful to the US government, particularly US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations for returning these extraordinary symbols of our past civilisations to their rightful owner today.”
The ambassador said as they looked look beyond 2014 into the ‘Transformation Decade,’ the repatriation of these artifacts assured them that Afghanistan would once again thrive as a cultural and artistic hub.
“We value our relationship with the United States and the assistance they have provided in helping to preserve our nation’s history and identity.”
The vase is a 12.75-inch Roman oinochoe, or wine pitcher, from the 5th to 8th century AD Also returned were three 4-by-3.25-inch 5th century BC gold foil appliques depicting antelopes and two antique coiled gold ornaments from approximately the 17th century, weighing approximately one pound.
In March, 2011, US Customs and Border Protection and the HSI New York El Dorado Task Force seized a shipment containing the gold artifacts and the ancient vase at Newark Liberty International Airport, Central Air Cargo Examination Facility, after HSI New York special agents discovered they were destined for a New York City man and later to a New York business suspected of dealing in looted cultural property.
Through the investigative process, the antiquities were found to have originated in Afghanistan. On Jan. 25, 2012, the shipment was administratively forfeited. HSI New York, London and Dubai are conducting this ongoing investigation.
Previous repatriations to Afghanistan include: On June 2, HSI Kabul returned a late 19th century historic “jezail” rifle ammunition speed loader to the people of Afghanistan following an investigation.
The ammunition speed loader had disappeared from the Kabul National Museum in the years after the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan. On May 22, 2008, HSI repatriated eight Bronze Age circa 2,000 BC artifacts to Afghanistan.
The artifacts, likely looted from northern tombs, had been illegally removed from Afghanistan and sold in the United States. Additionally, on May 23, 2005, ICE repatriated two rare coins, estimated to be more than 2,000 years old, which were looted during the unrest following the departure of Russian forces in 1988. The Indo-Greek coins of Agathokles, dated between 171 and 160 BC, were looted from Kabul Taliban factions.
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