Koichiro Matsuura, head of UNESCO, says that professional thieves were mainly responsible for the looting of Baghdad Museum: “Most of it was well-planned looting by professionals,” likely with the help of musuem employees. The thefts were described as “probably the work of international gangs who hired Iraqis for the job, and who have been active in recent years doing illegal excavations at Iraqi archaeological digs.”
Matsuura declined to blame coalition forces for the looting of the museum: “If I were to blame somebody, it would be those armed bandits who looted their own cultural treasury,” he said, adding thta the museum was robbed during “a power vacuum” following the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s government, during which “anything could happen in such confusion and turmoil.”
Some have speculated that Iraqi officials may have looted the museum before fleeing the city, but I am not aware of any particular evidence to support that theory.
UPDATE: Interpol is looking into the thefts, amid reports that stolen antiquities are already showing up on the European black market.
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