ISIS daily profits from oil, theft, human trafficking exceed $3mn – report
Reuters / Alaa Al-Marjani
Islamic State radicals gain more than $3 million per day just from oil sales, while also earning huge sums from human trafficking and extortion, report US intelligence officials and experts. They are wealthier than any other terror group in history.
The Islamic State group which seized huge terrorizes in Iraq and Syria, is now controlling eleven oil fields in both countries, US analysts told AP. They added that the militants are selling oil and other products via old established networks under the noses of Kurdish, Turkish and Jordanian authorities.
The resources of the Islamic State (IS) exceed that “of any other terrorist group in history,” a US intelligence official told the agency on condition of anonymity.
According to the analysts, the illegal oil is usually transported in tanker trucks.
“There’s a lot of money to be made,” said Dr. Denise Natali, who worked in Kurdistan as an American humanitarian official and is now a senior research fellow at National Defense University.
“The Kurds say they have made an attempt to close it down, but you pay off a border guard, you pay off somebody else and you get stuff through,” she added.
IS reportedly gets for its smuggled oil about $25 to $60 per barrel. Normally the same amount of oil costs about $100. However the total profit of the extremist group exceeds $3 million a day, said Luay al-Khatteeb, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Doha Center in Qatar.
A general view of an oil refinery in Al-Jbessa oil field in Al-Shaddadeh town of Al-Hasakah gorvernate. (Reuters / Stringer)
The group also exports illegally the antiquities out of Iraq to Turkey and thus gets hundreds of millions of dollars, added al-Khatteeb. Millions more come from human trafficking as the militants are selling women and children as sex slaves.
Other sources of income include extortion payments, ransom from kidnapped hostages, and any kind of theft from the areas taken by IS.
“It’s cash-raising activities resemble those of a mafia-like organization,” another US intelligence official said, again on condition of anonymity. “They are well-organized, systematic and enforced through intimidation and violence.”
According to US officials, the militants started imposing taxes on all kinds of economic activity in the city of Mosul, northern Iraq, even before it was seized by them in June. They threatened death penalties to those who were reluctant to pay.
From Mosul alone, IS was reaping $8 million a month from extortion, said an analysis by the Council on Foreign Relations. When the group seized the city, it grabbed millions of dollars in cash from banks, though not the hundreds of millions as initially reported, US intelligence officials say.
A general view is seen of Mosul Dam in northern Iraq (Reuters/Youssef Boudlal)
The IS fighters managed to take control of the Mosul Dam in early August. However, persistent US strikes forced the militants out of the area, marking the first significant defeat for them since the US re-entered the conflict with airstrikes.
The Islamic State group “has managed to successfully translate territorial control in northern Syria and portions of Iraq into a means of revenue generation,” said one more US intelligence official.
The border between Iraq and Turkey has long been a haven for smugglers, and that’s why the group has so much illegal activities, claim the analysts, adding that generations have illicitly moved various goods through the region.
In the meantime, the US officials reportedly noticed one positive tendency as the IS violent tactics have subsequently drawn worldwide attention and funding has diminished.