Tag Archive | UAE

U.S. DoJ Files Civil Action to Forfeit Thousands of Ancient Iraqi Artifacts Imported By Hobby Lobby*

U.S. DoJ Files Civil Action to Forfeit Thousands of Ancient Iraqi Artifacts Imported By Hobby Lobby*

By Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of New York

Cuneiform Tablets Were Falsely Labeled as Product “Samples” and Shipped to Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., and Two Corporate Affiliates

Earlier today, the United States filed a civil complaint to forfeit thousands of cuneiform tablets and clay bullae. As alleged in the complaint, these ancient clay artifacts originated in the area of modern-day Iraq and were smuggled into the United States through the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel, contrary to federal law. Packages containing the artifacts were shipped to Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. (“Hobby Lobby”), a nationwide arts-and-crafts retailer based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and two of Hobby Lobby’s corporate affiliates. The shipping labels on these packages falsely described cuneiform tablets as tile “samples.”

The government also filed a stipulation of settlement with Hobby Lobby, in which Hobby Lobby consented to the forfeiture of the artifacts in the complaint, approximately 144 cylinder seals and an additional sum of $3 million, resolving the civil action. Hobby Lobby further agreed to adopt internal policies and procedures governing its importation and purchase of cultural property, provide appropriate training to its personnel, hire qualified outside customs counsel and customs brokers, and submit quarterly reports to the government on any cultural property acquisitions for the next eighteen months.

The complaint and stipulation of settlement were announced by Bridget M. Rohde, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Angel M. Melendez, Special Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), New York.

“American collectors and importers must ensure compliance with laws and regulations that require truthful declarations to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, so that Customs officers are able to scrutinize cultural property crossing our borders and prevent the inappropriate entry of such property,” stated Acting United States Attorney Rohde.

“If they do not, and shippers use false declarations to try to clandestinely enter property into the United States, this Office and our law enforcement partners will discover the deceit and seize the property.” Ms. Rohde thanked U.S. Customs and Border Protection for its role in intercepting shipments and safeguarding the seized antiquities.

“The protection of cultural heritage is a mission that HSI and its partner U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) take very seriously as we recognize that while some may put a price on these artifacts, the people of Iraq consider them priceless,” stated Special Agent-in-Charge Melendez.

According to the complaint and stipulated statement of facts filed with the court, in or around 2009, Hobby Lobby began to assemble a collection of historically significant manuscripts, antiquities and other cultural materials. In connection with this effort, Hobby Lobby’s president and a consultant traveled to the UAE in July 2010 to inspect a large number of cuneiform tablets and other antiquities being offered for sale (the “Artifacts”). Cuneiform is an ancient system of writing on clay tablets that was used in ancient Mesopotamia thousands of years ago.

In October 2010, an expert on cultural property law retained by Hobby Lobby warned the company that the acquisition of cultural property likely from Iraq, including cuneiform tablets and cylinder seals, carries a risk that such objects may have been looted from archaeological sites in Iraq. The expert also advised Hobby Lobby to review its collection of antiquities for any objects of Iraqi origin and to verify that their country of origin was properly declared at the time of importation into the United States. The expert warned Hobby Lobby that an improper declaration of country of origin for cultural property could lead to seizure and forfeiture of the artifacts by CBP.

Notwithstanding these warnings, in December 2010, Hobby Lobby executed an agreement to purchase over 5,500 Artifacts, comprised of cuneiform tablets and bricks, clay bullae and cylinder seals, for $1.6 million. The acquisition of the Artifacts was fraught with red flags. For example, Hobby Lobby received conflicting information where the Artifacts had been stored prior to the inspection in the UAE. Further, when the Artifacts were presented for inspection to Hobby Lobby’s president and consultant in July 2010, they were displayed informally. In addition, Hobby Lobby representatives had not met or communicated with the dealer who purportedly owned the Artifacts, nor did they pay him for the Artifacts. Rather, following instructions from another dealer, Hobby Lobby wired payment for the Artifacts to seven personal bank accounts held in the names of other individuals.

With Hobby Lobby’s consent, a UAE-based dealer shipped packages containing the Artifacts to three different corporate addresses in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Between one and three shipments arrived at a time, without the required customs entry documentation being filed with CBP, and bore shipping labels that falsely and misleadingly described their contents as “ceramic tiles” or “clay tiles (sample).” . After approximately 10 packages shipped in this manner were received by Hobby Lobby and its affiliates, CBP intercepted five shipments. All of the intercepted packages bore shipping labels that falsely declared that the Artifacts’ country of origin was Turkey. No further shipments were received until September 2011, when a package containing approximately 1,000 clay bullae from the same purchase was received by Hobby Lobby. It was shipped by an Israeli dealer and accompanied by a false declaration stating that the bullae’s country of origin was Israel.

In executing the stipulation of settlement, Hobby Lobby has accepted responsibility for its past conduct and agreed to take steps to remedy the deficiencies that resulted in its unlawful importation of the Artifacts. Hobby Lobby has agreed to the forfeiture of all of the Artifacts shipped to the United States.

The government’s case is being handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Karin Orenstein and Ameet B. Kabrawala.

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 17-CV-3980 (LDH) (VMS)

Exhibit A
Sample Images of the Defendants in Rem

Cuneiform Tablets

Clay Bullae


Download Cuneiform In Rem Complaint .pdf


USAO – New York, Eastern

John Marzulli
Tyler Daniels
United States Attorney’s Office
(718) 254-6323


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ISIS Stealing and Selling Ancient Syrian Artefacts to Buyers from the U.S. and Europe*

Looted Palmyra Treasures Discovered in Geneva Warehouse*

The Treasure at the Heart of Iraq

This Week the ‘Arch of Baal’ Was Displayed For the Third Time in Honour of ‘The World Government Summit’*

Indians Sue Britain for Return of Queen’s ‘Koh-i-Noor’ Crown Jewel*

Blood and Gold: Children Dying as Egypt’s Treasures are Looted*

European Museums to ‘loan’ Looted Benin Bronzes to Nigeria!?*

Indigenous Mexicans Slam Misappropriation of Native Designs*

Israel Backs Saudi Arabia in Confrontation with Qatar*

Israel Backs Saudi Arabia in Confrontation with Qatar*

By Ali Abunimah

President Donald Trump and King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh, 20 May. Trump’s endorsement of Saudi-led anti-Iran alliance may have emboldened Saudi Arabia’s move to isolate Qatar. – Shealah Craighead White House Photo


Israeli officials have gleefully endorsed the position of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in a growing confrontation with Qatar, the most public acknowledgment yet of the deepening alliance between certain Gulf states and Tel Aviv over their common enmity towards Iran.

Meanwhile, evidence has emerged of close cooperation between the United Arab Emirates and a key Israel lobby group to pressure Qatar over its support for the Palestinian resistance organization Hamas.

On Monday, Saudi Arabia and several of its satellite states, including the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, broke off diplomatic relations with Qatar and imposed a blockade, cutting land, sea and air links to the country.

Regional media reported that shelves in stores in Qatar, whose only land border is with Saudi Arabia, were quickly emptied as residents feared a prolonged closure could lead to food shortages.

Justifying its decision, Saudi Arabia has accused Doha of “grave violations” such as “adopting various terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at destabilizing the region,” including the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State, also known as ISIS, and al-Qaida.

Israel’s “opportunity”

Israeli officials were quick to offer their support to Saudi Arabia.

“New line drawn in the Middle Eastern sand,” Michael Oren, Israel’s deputy minister for diplomacy, proclaimed on Twitter.

“No longer Israel against Arabs but Israel and Arabs against Qatar-financed terror.”

Israeli defense minister Avigdor Lieberman declared that the crisis was an “opportunity for cooperation” between Israel and certain Gulf states.

“It is clear to everyone, even in the Arab countries, that the real danger to the entire region is terrorism,” Lieberman claimed. He added that the Saudi-led bloc had cut ties with Qatar “not because of Israel, not because of the Jews, not because of Zionism,” but “rather from fears of terrorism.”

Chagai Tzuriel, a top official in Israel’s intelligence ministry, told The Times of Israel that Qatar was a “pain in the ass” to other “Sunni” Arab states allied with Israel.

Israel’s former defense minister Moshe Yaalon also expressed backing for the Saudi-led sectarian coalition.

“The Sunni Arab countries, apart from Qatar, are largely in the same boat with us since we all see a nuclear Iran as the number one threat against all of us,” he said at a ceremony celebrating the 50th anniversary of Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Syria’s Golan Heights.

On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia continued to escalate the situation, suspending the license of Qatar Airways and ordering its banks to sell the Qatari currency.

Who supports “terror”?

While Saudi Arabia offered no evidence for its charges against Qatar, the accusations are rich coming from a regime that has been one of the biggest sources of funding to so-called jihadi groups going back decades.

But like Saudi Arabia, Qatar too has been accused of financing or allowing money to flow to ISIS and al-Qaida-affiliated groups in Syria.

Israel has also had no problem with al-Qaida linked groups, and even ISIS, in Syria, offering them various kinds of cooperation and material support.

So the source of Saudi ire must lie elsewhere. Qatar has for years, along with Saudi Arabia, been part of the counterrevolution to thwart or reverse the so-called Arab Spring uprisings.

Qatar was taking part in the Saudi-led war on Yemen, before being kicked out of the coalition this week.

The two-year bombing campaign in Yemen has killed thousands of civilians and brought the impoverished country to the brink of famine.

But Qatar has often found itself backing different horses: Doha supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, while Riyadh has backed the regime of Abdulfattah al-Sisi, the army chief who led the 2013 military coup that overthrew the elected Muslim Brotherhood president in Cairo.

These differences had soured relations between Qatar and Saudi Arabia for years.

But Saudi Arabia may have been emboldened to act now, after U.S. President Donald Trump gave full endorsement to strengthening a Saudi-led anti-Iran alliance during his visit to Riyadh last month.

Targeting Hamas and Iran

Qatar has continued to host the leaders of the Palestinian resistance group Hamas and has been under pressure to expel the group’s officials – Israeli media claims that Qatar did expel two officials are unconfirmed.

But the biggest difference appears to be that Qatar has not been willing to fully sign up to the Saudi-Israeli alliance against Iran.

A deal in April in which Qatar allegedly paid about $700 million in ransom to release members of its royal family abducted by an Iran-affiliated group in Iraq reportedly enraged officials in other Gulf states.

Qatar also reportedly paid about $300 million in ransom to several al-Qaida linked groups in Syria, according to The Financial Times.

Also in April, Qatar lifted a self-imposed ban on developing a major maritime natural gas field it shares with Iran, which would necessitate cooperation between the two countries, according to the Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz.

Things came to a head around the time of Trump’s visit and his summit with regional leaders.

Qatar’s national news agency published comments attributed to the country’s leader Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, calling Iran “a regional and Islamic power that cannot be ignored” and asserting that “it is unwise to face up against it.”

Tamim also purportedly said his country’s relations with Israel were “good.” Qatar has flatly denied the statements are real, claiming that the news agency’s website and social media accounts were hacked.

Qatar has historically maintained relations with Israel, even welcoming its then foreign minister Tzipi Livni to Doha in 2008.

But the Qatar-based network Al Jazeera has cited the fake comments as a trigger for the crisis, accusing Saudi Arabia and its allies of using them as a pretext to move against Qatar.

UAE embraces Israel

Another factor is the close relationship between the United Arab Emirates and Israel.

Hacked emails published by The Intercept reveal coordination between the Emirates ambassador in Washington, Yousef Al-Otaiba, and the neoconservative pro-Israel think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

The emails reveal “a remarkable level of backchannel cooperation” between the Emirates and the think tank, which is funded by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, a close ally of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to The Intercept.

The email exchanges included complaints from the Israel lobby group about Qatar’s support for Hamas “terrorists.”

An agenda for a meeting between leaders of the Israel lobby group and Emirates ambassador al-Otaiba scheduled for this month includes such items as “Qatar support for radical Islamists” including Hamas, Qatar’s “destabilizing role in Egypt, Syria, Libya and the Gulf” and the role of the Qatar-backed Al Jazeera network.

It also includes ways to reduce the influence Qatar gains from hosting a major US air base.

One of the items on the agenda is “Political, economic, security sanctions.”

The agenda is evidence that the Foundation for Defense of Democracies – a key player in Israel’s anti-Palestinian propaganda – was gearing up to deliver in Washington the anti-Qatar message coming from Riyadh and the United Arab Emirates.

U.S. role

The leaked documents reveal that the Saudi-led bloc is troubled by the influence Qatar gains by hosting the massive American al-Udeid air base.

But this is precisely why the U.S., the overall imperial power, has no interest in a squabble among states that it views as vassals.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson affirmed the importance of U.S. ties with all the states involved and offered to mediate, urging the feuding rulers to “remain unified.”

The U.S. military lauded Qatar for its “enduring commitment to regional security” and affirmed it had “no plans to change our posture in Qatar.”

Qatar has taken these messages as signs of strong U.S. support, but as ever Trump was quick to throw everything into doubt.

“During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar – look!” Trump tweeted on Tuesday, appearing to directly endorse the Saudi-led campaign against Doha.

“So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off,” he added.

They said they would take a hard line on funding extremism and all reference was pointing to Qatar.”

“Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism,” the president asserted. More likely, Trump is pouring gasoline on an already burning region.

A long-term goal of Israel has long been to divide Arab powers against each other, to “let them bleed,” as the official Israeli doctrine on Syria goes.

Whatever happens next, Israel will continue to benefit from the chaos and divisions that only strengthen its hand.


Related Topics:

Saudi Arabia Cuts Ties with Qatar for Not Wanting War with Iran*

After Riyadh Summit, Sunni Unity Crumbles*

Saudi Arabia Switching to BRICS in Response to U.S. Congress 9/11 Blackmail*

Saudi Airstrikes on Market Kills Civilians in Yemen*

Dubai’s Emir Flies over £250,000 of Aid to Haiti in his Private Jet*

Dubai’s Emir Flies over £250,000 of Aid to Haiti in his Private Jet*



Sheikh Mohammed donated 90 tonnes of emergency supplies in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew

Sheikh Mohammed donated 90 tonnes of emergency supplies in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew

The Emir of Dubai has flown £300,000 of emergency supplies to Haiti on his private jet.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum sent 90 tonnes of emergency supplies in his Boeing 747 to the Caribbean island in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.

Around 300,000 Haitians have been forced by the tropical storm to live in temporary shelters after an estimated 1,000 people were killed when it struck the poor country.

Haiti is still reeling from the effects of the 2010 earthquake and an ongoing cholera outbreak which has killed around 10,000 people so far.

According to the Dubai government, the Sheikh’s wife, Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, personally oversaw the relief mission which included tents, mosquito nets, medical supplies and water purification units.

The United Nations has stated 1.4 million people in Haiti require urgent assistance appealing for $120 million (£98 million) in funds to help the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

Princess Haya wrote in an Instagram post:

“One image will forever be in mind, when I think of Haiti. I have seen in 2010, the devastation caused, and it was only because I was on an IHC envoy.

“The same cargo plane I came in today. Again today lives have been erased.

“It is all about what the country needs, but to a certain extent, it is also about what is given.”

She praised the humanitarian actions of her husband the emir and the United Allied Emirates despite the wars and fighting currently besieging the Middle East.

The daughter of King Hussein of Jordan, Princess Haya added:

“We, as Arabs, should be bankrupt. We fight on every front, and we have our own to feed and shelter.

“But please, if I can just tell you the sense of humility I knew because my country the UAE had given and my people the Jordanians are there fighting.”


Related Topics:

The Devastating Facts About Hurricane Matthew in Haiti Versus The Media’s ‘Poetic Truth’*

Hurricane Matthew and the Clinton Foundation Theft from Haiti*

What Hillary Clinton Did To Haiti Should Scare any Voter*

Haiti Sues U.N. For Cholera Outbreak Which Has Infected 770,000 People | U.N. Claims “Absolute Immunity”*

The Butcher of Bahrain is British*

The Butcher of Bahrain is British*

By Jamie Merrill

The Government is refusing to release 38-year-old papers shedding light on Britain’s relationship with the authoritarian regime in Bahrain, amid suggestions that it is protecting a deal on a new Royal Navy base in the Gulf country.

Campaigners asked the Information Rights Tribunal to intervene and force the Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) to release the full text of a 1977 document detailing the conversation between British officials and Ian Henderson, a British military officer who ran the police force in the Sunni-ruled state for 30 years.

Henderson, who died two years ago, was dubbed the “Butcher of Bahrain” after allegations that he was complicit in the ransacking of villages, the sadistic sexual abuse of Shia prisoners and the use of power drills to maim them.

The document should be available under the 30-year-rule controlling the release of government papers, but Marc Jones, an academic and a member of the Bahrain Watch human rights group, says the FCO has refused to release it despite repeated requests.

Instead, only a heavily redacted version has been released. Mr Jones believes the full document is highly critical of the Khalifa family, which rules the state, and is being held back to save them “embarrassment” and avoid jeopardising a deal for a new Royal Navy base.

Ian Henderson, the Butcher of Bahrain

He said:

“My appeal is reflecting public concern that the British Government has insulated the Government of Bahrain from criticism of serious human rights abuses including torture, and may have concealed evidence of serious wrong-doing. In the unredacted information, there are indications that the withheld information could contain information important in understanding why the British-led Bahrain police force had a tendency towards deviance and torture.”

In heavily redacted written evidence submitted to the tribunal, Edward Oakden, a senior FCO diplomat and former ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, said the document should not to be released, citing the base as vital for improving “operational effectiveness in a volatile region” and adding that Bahrain is a “generous host” to the Navy and the RAF.

The tribunal is expected to reach a verdict on the appeal within four months. Meanwhile, Amnesty International has found that the Bahraini regime continues to “curtail freedoms of expression, association and assembly” and that its security forces have used “excessive force to disperse protests” killing at least two people in the past year.

The redacted document is believed to detail Henderson’s verdict on Bahraini security officials, potentially including members of the Khalifa family. His career was closely linked with the ruling family, including the Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman, who has run the country since 1970.

the Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman with U.K.s Prime Minister David Cameron

Mr Jones said:

“By attempting to shield information that highlights the dependence of the Khalifa on the British, the public are being deprived of important information of historic British complicity in human rights violations.

Henderson was installed as head of security in Bahrain in 1966, when the country was still a British protectorate. As a colonial officer he had helped suppress the Mau Mau insurgency in Kenya, and when Bahrain declared independence in 1971, Bin Salman kept him as head of the country’s intelligence service.

A spokesperson for the Foreign office said it

“would not be appropriate to comment”

until the tribunal had made its judgment. The spokesperson added:

“The UK is working closely with the Government of Bahrain to provide reform assistance focused on strengthening human rights and the rule of law.”


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India: The re-assimilation of the Jewel in the Crown of Western Empire*

A Glorious Past Before Colonialism and the Oppression of African Women*

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22 Years of Fake “Islamic Terror”*

US And UK Planes are Air-Dropping Weapons And Supplies to ISIS*

Bishop Badejo: U.S. won’t fight Boko Haram because of their Eugenics Agenda in Africa*

“Maasai Homes Burned to Make Room for Wealthy Arabs”*

Yemen: U.S. Backed Government Forced to Flee, but Will that Stop Them?*

Zapatista Resistance Festival Sheds Light on Those Above who Destroy while Those from Below Build*

“Maasai Homes Burned to Make Room for Wealthy Arabs”*

“Maasai Homes Burned to Make Room for Wealthy Arabs”*

By First Peoples Worldwide

After months of government threats, eviction became a reality yesterday for the Maasai of Loliondo, Tanzania, in the Western Serengeti. According to reports from a Maasai source in Tanzania, Tanzanian government forces have entered villages and Maasai homes have been burned. The evictions reportedly started on Thursday, February 12 and continued through today.

Tanzanian officials announced plans to sell 1,500 square kilometers of Maasai land in the fall of 2014, to a private luxury hunting and safari company based in the United Arab Emirates. The sale would evict 40,000 pastoralist Maasai from their ancestral lands. Although the president of Tanzania pledged to never evict the Maasai people less than 3 months ago, photos from Loliondo today prove that he has reneged on his promise.

“Maasai homes have been burnt to give room for wealthy Arabs to hunt lions and leopards [in] the Serengeti ecosystem,” said a Maasai source.

“We are continuously made homeless by our government… Had it been not the love we have for nature and wildlife, the Serengeti ecosystem would have been like other places in Tanzania where people have depleted the forest cover for charcoal and decimated animal species for food and other utilitarian goods.”

A government official camp near a Maasai village in Loliondo. [photo credit: Fredy Ledidi]


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Kenya: Rights Of Mother Earth – Maasai Response

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41,000 Kenyans to Sue Britain for Maltreatment*

Tanzanian Maasai Villagers Win Fight for Information about Land-Grabs and Forced Eviction*

Australia Discontinues Services to the People Whose Land It Took*

Land-Grabbing: Targeting the Sioux Indian Reservation*

The Guaraní Continue the Fight for their Land and Human Rights*

More Reason to Hold onto Scotland: Cameron Follows Black Gold to the Shetlands*

Yeah.. Dumping nuclear waste on Indigenous Australian Land Would Increase their Living Standards*

Sisi’s offer of Kicking People out of their Own Land Welcomed by Israel*

A Ruling that Highlights Indigenous Love of the Land and Canada’s Destruction of It*