The “richest of the insurgency groups” behind Baghdad blasts?

October 26, 2009

Over 150 people may have died in bomb blasts in Baghdad yesterday.  Somewhere around the eighteenth paragraph of this report, the New York Times finally hints at the culprits of the attack: 

No one has so far claimed responsibility for the pair of bombings, but they were remarkably similar to a pair of coordinated attacks on Aug. 19 that struck the Foreign and Finance Ministry buildings. Those attacks were claimed five days later by the Islamic State of Iraq…

This would be a good time to review just how the Islamic State of Iraq, a jihadist group with foreign (ie, Al Qaeda) leadership, is funded.  Reporting from Britain’s Channel 4 two years ago is worth revisiting:

An Iraqi Security Services report obtained by More 4 News identifies the ISI as the richest of the insurgency groups, estimating that between $1bn to $1.5bn has been collected in revenue by the group through foreign donations, enforced taxation and confiscation of the property and funds of Iraqis (both Sunni and Shia) the ISI accuse of collaborating with the “Crusaders”.

They also generate revenue from the take-over of refineries such as Baiji north-west of Baghdad (from which alone it is believed they raised $1.5 bn) and extracting road tax from refinery trucks transporting refined fuel.

Thanks for the breakdown, Channel 4, but these sanitized revenue terms (see my short essay on media euphemisms for Islamic taxes) should be categorized properly as follows:

“Foreign donations” = Sadaqa (voluntary charity to help the poor or promote Islam)

“Enforced taxation” = Zakat (Islam’s obligatory tax on wealth)

“Confiscation of the property” = Fay (fay is the appropriation of land by the Caliph for use by the whole Islamic community, ie taking private land for public Muslim use)

“Road tax” = Ushuur (the ushuur, which can be spelled several different ways, is not to be confused with the harvest tax commonly known as ushr, although the words both stem from the concept of “one-tenth”.  The ushuur is a customs duty imposed on merchants.)

Lastly, is there any Islamic basis for taking over oil refineries in Northern Iraq?  Most Muslims agree that a special “mineral” zakat can be assessed on any source from underground, be it buried treasure, precious metals, or oil.  What’s the tax rate on this zakat?  The normal 2½ percent zakat rate?  The 10 percent tax rate for harvests?  Nope.  Twenty percent for oil and minerals.

Not only is oil the richest resource for most Middle Eastern countries, but it has conveniently been interpreted to be taxed at a higher rate than any other good.

If the ISI assumes responsibility for these latest attacks, keep in mind that the revenues for their operations have come from revenues from taxes imposed by Islam, the “religion of peace.”


  1. […] 2007, the Islamic State of Iraq was seen as “the richest of the insurgency groups” in Iraq with $1 billion to 1.5 billion “collected in revenue by the group through foreign […]

  2. […] 2007, the Islamic State of Iraq was seen as “the richest of the insurgency groups” in Iraq with $1 billion to 1.5 billion “collected in revenue by the group through foreign […]

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