Antiquities Dealer Sues Wall Street Journal Over ISIS Article

Colleen Schwartz, a spokeswoman for Dow Jones & Company, which publishes The Journal, said the company had not received a copy of the lawsuit as yet.

Since its emergence, ISIS, or the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, has destroyed archaeological sites in Syria and elsewhere and authorities have stated that the terror group raises funds by selling off looted artifacts.

The May 31st Journal article said that neither Mr. Aboutaam nor his brother had been charged with any wrongdoing in connection with the inquiries cited by the law enforcement officials. The article said the Aboutaams were on a list of 15 dealers whom French authorities were focusing on but it did not name the other dealers.

A spokesperson for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which handles investigations into the smuggling of looted art, did not return a call seeking comment.

A spokeswoman for the Toledo museum, Candice L. Harrison, declined to comment on the returned donation.

Ali Aboutaam, who lives in Geneva and operates his own gallery there, is not a party to the lawsuit. A lawyer for Hicham Aboutaam, Richard Emery, said the business in Geneva has not suffered the same level of damage.

The Aboutaam brothers, like other dealers in ancient art, are no strangers to controversy. In 2004, they were mentioned in an article in The New York Times that traced the journey of a looted Egyptian artifact, which passed through their hands. The brothers said at the time that they had not realized the piece was looted.

That same year, Hicham Aboutaam pleaded guilty to a federal charge that he had falsified a customs document about the origins of an ancient ceremonial drinking vessel that his gallery later sold for $950,000.

In late 2016, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit against the Islamic State seeking to recover antiquities looted by the terrorist group but to date United States officials have not brought related actions against individual dealers.

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