Activism is once again being passed off as "research" in an opinion piece published in the Huffington Post. However, with regard to the claim that antiquities collectors fund terrorism, a former senior US Customs official has stated at a public forum held at the National Press Club on April 30th that while in government service, he did not see any real, actionable connection between terrorism and the antiquities trade. The transcript of his comments is expected in the near future.
Indeed, antiquities generally make unattractive funding sources for insurgents and criminals who have access to far more lucrative items—they are nowhere near as “liquid” or easily sold as commodities like drugs, diamonds, oil, etc. Instead, unbiased reports seem to suggest that most illicit antiquities can be traced either to “subsistence diggers” (typically poor farmers seeking to supplement their income) or that they were uncovered during road building or construction projects.
To the extent there are any "cultural racketeers" involved, wouldn't it be far more likely that in a military dictatorship like that in Egypt, that they would be corrupt government officials?