Is a million dollars a day enough to sustain ISIS’s operations without dipping into its own reserves? Perhaps. There may be about 10,000 ISIS foot soldiers. Paying, feeding, clothing, and transporting that many men is expensive. But if each jihadist were getting a proportionate share of $100 a day, that still well exceeds the median Iraqi income of $15 a day, which probably helps with recruitment efforts.
That being said, such a rapid influx of money does not automatically translate into the ability to spend the money—either wisely or at all. Remember the movie “Brewster’s Millions” where Richard Pryor was challenged to spend $30 million in 30 days? It’s harder than it looks.
But it’s still ominous. From the Telegraph on July 11:
Iraq oil bonanza reaps $1 million a day for Islamic State
Exclusive: Islamic State strengthens grip on northern Iraq by raising millions from sale of oil through Kurdistan to Turkey and Iran
Islamic State jihadists are raising as much as $1 million a day from the sale of crude oil recovered from conquered oilfields in Iraq that is then smuggled on to Turkey and Iran.
Oil industry experts believe the group formerly known as Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (Isis) is able to command $25 a barrel for crude its fighters are moving in tankers from the oil plains south of Mosul.
Middlemen based in the Kurdistan region of Iraq are able to turn a handsome profit on the supplies by selling its abroad for refining into the more valuable petroleum and diesel products.
The specialist Iraqi Oil Report said the centre of the $1million trade was the town of Tuz Khurmatu on the fringes of the Kurdish region. Traders there are buying convoys of tankers supplied by Islamic State…
The swift advance of Islamic State after last month’s conquest of Mosul gave it control over the path of the Kirkuk/Ceyhan oil pipeline, the country’s biggest, and the Baiji oil refinery, again the most important refinery in Iraq…