How Islamic State makes its money

EPA/SEDAT SUNA

A Member of Kurdish People Defence Units (YPG) sits on a truck after coming from the Syrian town of al-Raqqa, in Tel Abyad, Syria

How Islamic State makes its money


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Islamic State is probably the best-funded terrorist organisation. The question now is where does Islamic State gets all this money.

As reported by The Washington Post, it is possible that group’s methods of financing are very different from other prominent terrorist organisations, and much more difficult for the United States and other countries to shut down. Unlike many terrorist groups, which finance themselves mainly through wealthy donors, the Islamic State has used its control over a territory that is roughly the size of the UK and home to millions of people to develop diversified revenue channels that make it more resilient to US offensives.

Meanwhile, the leaders of the Group of 20 issued a statement on November 15 calling for better coordination to cut off funding channels to terrorist organizations, including exchanging information and freezing terrorist assets.

Unlike other terrorist organisations, Islamic State is organised. It sets and approves annual budgets, and it uses a chief financial officer-like figure to manage its accounts. It’s also “fastidious” about documenting a return on investment for its funders. The Islamic State has established a central bank and even planned to mint its own currency — although in practice the group generally uses local currency, such as the Iraqi dinar and the Turkish lira.

There are reportedly12 ways Islamic State earns its revenue: oil exports from IS territory, taxation/extortion, kidnapping for ransom, wealthy donors, sale of antiquities on the black market, Iraqi banks, sale of looted property, real estate, foreign fighters, agriculture, phosphate, cement and sulphur production and human trafficking.

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