Oil, organ trafficking, trading in antiquities, all alleged to be sources of ISIS funding, but how much is ISIS myth-making? They are believed to be the best resourced terror organization in the world but after months of coalition airstrikes how are ISIS’ revenue streams holding up. Oil was their main source of funding in the summer of 2014 ISIS made between 2 and 3 million dollars a day through the sales of smuggled oil.
The major refineries have been high value targets for coalition strikes and activists on the ground tell us ISIS is increasingly reliant on primitive refineries that are smaller and easier for them to run like this one sources inside Iraqi say their revenue from selling smuggled oil is down to between 250,000 and half a million dollars. As the air strikes began late September, ISIS began diversifying into selling off Syria’s priceless cultural heritage.
The spring and summer of 2014 ISIS involvement in looted antiquities was simply to tax the activities of existing sort of existing looters. People who were on the ground essentially looting these sites, they would just come along and take a share of the profits. But by the end of the summer and into the fall and winter of 2014, they were actually doing it for themselves. If you are going to be investing your own money into something, then there must be a sizeable return for you otherwise you wouldn’t be doing it.
The U.S. treasury says foreign donations continue to be an important, if comparatively smaller, revenue source. Used to ferry foreign fighters and fund their expenses to bring them in from the Middle East and North Africa into Iraq and Syria. Much of the foreign donations are alleged to flow from the Gulf States. In essence, ISIS acts like a mafia, confiscating the land of accused Iraqi government collaborators charging protection money, ransoming hostages estimated at 20 million in 2014.
Bank robbery slashing bank seizure estimated 500 million dollars, setting up arbitrary checkpoints all these generate revenue.
The claims of organ trafficking though have yet to be substantiated, revenue from “taxes”. These can be as high as 20% Mosul residents told us.
The Raqqa activist group ‘Raqqa is being slaughtered silently’ say they even tax for the provision of basic services like water and electricity.
They gouge the population in the areas under their control; all this is reliant on the crucial routes between Raqqa and Mosul and a clear route from Iraq through turkey to out to international markets.
This is believed to be via the Hubur border gate, but while ISIS maybe better funded than any terror group before it. It’s also the first terror group to attempt to operate both as a fighting force and a civilian administration.
With 6 million people living in a territory the size of neighboring Jordan.
In addition to the tens of thousands of fighters it has to clothe and feed. Its outlays are substantial and the loss of the oil revenue has to hurt.
Copyright CNN 2015