They feel justified in seizing "war loot" in accordance with Islamic law. There is a whole chapter of the Qur'an devoted to war loot, or booty -- Surat Al-Anfal (Spoils of War), which is sura 8. After the Muslims' great victory in the Battle of Badr, Allah rewarded those to whom he had granted victory. There was so much booty for the victors that it became a bone of contention. So divisive did this threaten to become that Allah warns the Muslims not to consider booty won at Badr to belong to anyone but Muhammad: “They ask thee concerning things taken as spoils of war. Say: ‘(Such) spoils are at the disposal of Allah and the Messenger: so fear Allah, and keep straight the relations between yourselves. Obey Allah and His Messenger, if ye do believe” (8:1).
Ultimately, Muhammad distributed the booty among the Muslims equally, keeping a fifth for himself. (8:41). This was in accord with a special privilege that Allah had granted to Muhammad. Muhammad explained: “I have been given five (things) which were not given to any amongst the Prophets before me.” These included the fact that “Allah made me victorious by awe (by His frightening my enemies)” and “the booty has been made Halal (lawful) to me (and was not made so to anyone else)” (Bukhari 1.7.331). The Qur'an is also much preoccupied with booty outside of sura 8.
From AP, with thanks to Del:
AMARAH, Iraq - Looters ravaged a former British base Friday, a day after the camp was turned over to Iraqi troops, taking everything from doors and window frames to corrugated roofing and metal pipes, authorities said....
Several Iraqi soldiers, apparently unarmed, did not seem to make any effort to stop the looting.
"There are only few soldiers at Abu Naji camp. Some of the residents were carrying weapons so they (the soldiers) did not want bloodshed and with such a big number, they cannot stop them," Jabbar said....
When asked by a reporter why he was taking material from the base, one man, who refused to give his name, said: "This is war loot and we are allowed to take it."