A ceremonial sword belonging to Saddam Hussein was returned to Iraq this week after being taken as a war trophy by U.S. military personnel, according to The Washington Post
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency investigated the sword and whether it was a war trophy after it was advertised in an auction, the Post said. The federal agency determined that it was a cultural artifact.
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“Cultural property – such as the sword being returned today to the people of Iraq – represents part of a country’s history that should have never been stolen or auctioned,” said Homeland Security Investigations Associate Director James Dinkins in an ICE press release
. “We will continue conducting these types of investigations to ensure that current and future generations aren’t robbed of their nation’s history.”
The sword was apparently taken without authorization from Hussein’s office, the Post said, and was returned to Iraq’s ambassador in Washington, D.C.
ICE said the sword is a 43-inch embellished blade and sheath with gold inlaid Arabic writing along the edge of the blade. The sword was sold to a Manchester, N.H., auction company and advertised in their catalogue. It sold at auction for $15,000 but the sale had not been completed when an HSI agent seized the sword as a Iraqi cultural artifact.
The Post reported that Iraqi ambassador Lukman Failey, who accepted the sword on behalf of Iraq, said it was “one of these historic days that documents the deep relationship, cooperation, and friendship” between the two countries.
HSI has worked to recover cultural property taken from Iraq, particularly after the Iraq National Museum was looted after Hussein’s regime fell. A team of agents searched Baghdad for more than 17,000 items taken, although they found that many had just been hidden.
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