Marine Col. Matthew Bogdanos '80

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LEWISBURG, Pa. — Bucknell graduate and best-selling author Matthew Bogdanos is returning to his alma mater to talk about his book, Thieves of Baghdad: One Marine's Passion to Recover the World's Greatest Stolen Treasures.

The talk by the 1980 graduate, sponsored by Bucknell's Classics Department, is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 5, in the Elaine Langone Center's Forum. A book-signing and reception will immediately follow. The public is invited.

After losing his apartment near the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, the Manhattan assistant district attorney was recalled to active Marine duty and led a multi-agency task force in Afghanistan. While obtaining intelligence on top Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders, the Marine Reserve colonel received a Bronze Star.

Bogdanos then led an inter-agency task force into Iraq in March 2003 to search for terrorist cells, U.N. Security Council Resolution violations, and terrorist financing.

Recovery of antquities

His investigation into the looting of Baghdad's Iraq Museum resulted in the recovery of more than 5,000 antiquities in six countries. One of the recovered treasures is the Treasure of Nimrud - also known as Iraq's Crown Jewels - which is made up of 613 pieces of gold jewelry, precious stones, and ornaments from the height of the Assyrian civilization in 800 B.C.

It's a story that continues today.

In a recent column in The New York Times, Bogdanos recently wrote that looted art and terrorism are often related.

"When tracking down terrorists, we now find antiquities," he said. "In a series of raids in June in northwest Iraq, for instance, Marines arrested five terrorists in underground bunkers filled with automatic weapons, ammunition stockpiles, black uniforms, ski masks, night-vision goggles and 30 vases, cylinder seals and statuettes that had been stolen from the Iraq Museum.

Means of financing

"This was not an isolated event. As the 9/11 commission noted, international law enforcement has effectively squeezed terrorist groups by freezing assets, neutralizing charities that served as fronts for jihadists and otherwise cutting off traditional means of financing. But terrorists are nothing if not adaptive. Just as Taliban leaders in Afghanistan have begun to finance their activities through the opium trade, insurgents in Iraq have discovered a new source of income in antiquities."

Bogdanos is the recipient of a 2005 National Humanities Medal for his work recovering Iraq's treasures.

Book sale proceeds go to the Iraq Museum and its continuing recovery efforts.

Posted Sept. 13, 2006


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