The world’s 5 richest terrorist groups

August 29, 2011

In terms of their annual operating budgets to the best of our knowledge at this time, the Taliban, Hezbollah, the FARC, Hamas, and al-Shabaab may be the wealthiest terrorist organizations in the world today.  Al Qaeda trails, but if all its affiliated organizations are included, Al Qaeda remains in the upper echelon of the world’s terror budgets.

1.  Taliban

Taliban nets between $70 and $400 million from drug activity (of which at least $15 to $25 million is collected as ushr, Islam’s 10 percent tax on harvests) annually.  In addition, the Taliban collects an estimated $150 to $200 million per year in zakat and sadaqa donations, mostly from the Arab nations of the Persian Gulf.  These figures exclude extensive Taliban revenues from ransoms, extortion, and improperly diverted money from Western aid, U.N. contributions, defense contractors, and the Afghanistan government itself.  My own estimate would place that subtotal of an additional $50 million per year.

Splitting the difference for the estimated range of revenues, that would bring the Taliban’s total budget to an estimate of approximately $560 million annually.

2.  Hezbollah

Rachel Ehrenfeld’s Funding Evil documented that Hezbollah’s annual operating budget is between $200 and $500 million.  Iran provides at least $120 million of that, with the rest coming from khums, drug trafficking, and other criminal activity.

3.  FARC

Columbia’s Marxist guerrillas, the FARC, enjoy annual revenues that range from estimates of $80 to $350 million.

4.  Hamas

For 2010, Gaza’s budget adopted by Hamas was $540 million, but that’s a larger amount than Hamas’s own budget.   The Council on Foreign Relations lists Hamas’s budget as $70 million.  However, the recent news that Iran is cutting or ending its aid to Hamas which would  substantially diminish Hamas’s treasury.  Hamas receives significant funding through charitable front groups and from Saudi Arabia.

5.  Al Shabaab

A recent report from the U.N. revealed that al-Shabaab’s revenues are between $70 and $100 million per year, propelling it into the top tier of global jihadist funding.


Al Qaeda

The CIA estimated that before 9/11, al Qaeda’s annual budget was $30 million, which was almost exclusively from “donations” (zakat and sadaqa).  By almost all accounts, al Qaeda’s financial situation has deteriorated since then.  Other estimates place their budget from $16 to $50 million, which still puts al Qaeda itself toward the bottom of the list.  However, there are indications that revenue collections of al Qaeda offshoots such as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and al-Shabaab are flush with funds.  With AQIM in particular, the evidence shows that funds are being transferred from the regional organization back to the parent al Qaeda organization itself.


Reuters calls Lashkar-e-Taiba (whose revenues include hawala, the Gulf, and Pakistan’s ISI) “one of the largest and best-funded Islamic militant organizations” in South Asia.

It bears repeating that much of the revenue listed above, with the exception of the FARC’s drug money, originate from traditional Islamic revenue sources such as zakat, sadaqa, khums, and ushr, rather than from “secular,” criminal activity.

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  1. Hamas is not a terrorist group. Hamas is a political party that was elected DEMOCRATICALLY!

    • Democratically elected were also Nazis … and interestingly, neither of them gained perfect majority, and both of them killed the opposition…

      seriously saying, considering a Supremacist group a terrorist group is undermining the danger…. I will recommend choosing a better word, Perhaps Islam-Nazis to pinpoint them…

    • Joseph, on the admin side I see you have a U.K. email address. Since 2003, the U.K. has designated Hamas (both military & political wings) as a terrorist entity. The European Union also recognizes it as such.

  2. [...] is accurate that Lashkar-e-Taiba receives over $100 million a year, that would place LeT it in the top tier of the best financed terrorist organizations in the world above al-Shabaab and closing in on [...]

  3. [...] chart is an update to Money Jihad’s earlier post here.  The only significant change is the inclusion of Lashkar-e-Taiba, for which revenue estimates now [...]

  4. […] UN reported in 2011 that at least $15 million of al-Shabaab’s annual revenues come from the charcoal and sugar trade.  The UN also found that networks of Somali businessmen […]

  5. May god keep all of us safe and away from sins.
    I have something which can stop unnecessary terrorist attacks. What is the reason that so many muslim groups which call them as jihadi often target US and UK people. Do they are biten by mad dogs? No truth is kept secret because media is with the west.
    Actually US and UK have killed many of innocent muslims and arabs, in iraq and afghanistan. Because they want to rule on all muslim countries and on oil resources. They are also insulting muslims holy places by emplying female soldiers in tight and short dresses there. This all make extreme muslims angry and emotional and they target common innocent civillians of US and UK in the name of jihad to threaten US and UK government. They think it is islamic but it is not islamic as prooved by many verses of quran and hadeeth. Like a verse of quran means killing an inmocent man is such a sin as like killing whole mankind and to save an innocent man is like saving whole mankind. Another verse of great holy quran states muslims should always be just. They should not exceed limits while taking revenge with their enemies. It is neither islamic nor jihad to kill innocent civillians in case their king or government has tortured you or killed you.
    I think if this information is sent to those muslim groups which call themselves as jihadi, they will improve and may never again target innocent civillians. I dont know how to contact them if any of you know their contact information or email id please share them it all and save lives of many.
    Hope you will complete my request.

  6. Altamash Ansari
    It makes me laugh to see millions of muslims
    talking about who is responsible about the
    events of 11/09/2001 , until now many muslims
    feel shy when they remember this date and they
    try to prove that CIA was behind it ..
    My shy brothers/ sisters ! I want to ask you
    some questions:
    -Did you forget who killed more than 1 million
    civilians in Iraq ?
    -Did you forget who killed hundreds of
    thousands of kids and women in Afghanistan ?
    -Did you forget who destroyed a whole city
    named Falluja in Iraq?
    -Did you forget who killed thousands of
    innocents in Chichan and Burma ?
    -Did you forget who made shows andpictures
    insulting the greatest man inhistory , the
    prophet Muhammad pbuh ..
    -Did you forget who burned the Holy Quran
    many times ?
    -Did you forget who destroyed hundreds of
    Mosques ?
    -Did you forget who killed thousands of Iraqian
    scientists ??
    -Did you forget who raped hundreds of muslim
    women and killed their kids ??
    -Did you forget the prison of Abu ghrib in Iraq
    and how they used to torture muslims using
    electricity ??!
    And finally ,
    -Did you forget that Media is under their hands
    and that they can make the innocent sheep look
    like a monster ??
    So nevermind them and just remember that the
    prophet pbuh promised us that a day will come
    when everybody in the earth will be a muslim ,
    be proud my muslim brother/sister ! you are in
    the right path …

  7. Muslim groups which call themselves jihadi kill non- muslims on account of some quranic verse. Infact they, their leaders have either misunderstood, misinterpreted them or have added something extra to get the meaning they wanted. For example a quranic verse states according to them to kill nonbelievers until they accept islam. I agree it is written in quran but its context and meaning is diffrent. Before it many times it is wtlritten in holy quran that muslims should never attack anyone they have right of only to defend themselves. At the time the almighty allah gave us this ayah the messenger of allah hazrat muhammad mustafa sallallaho alaihe wasallam and his companions have shifted to madinah beceuse of enormous torture of meccans. In madinah they were welcomed and great messenger of allah was( pbuh) was chosen their leader by people of madinah. That time muslims were very few. Then meccans decided to attack on muslims and to kill the messenger of allah with their huge army. They were attacking muslims, then allah gave guidance to his messenger to kill them the disbelievers, the nonmuslims until they accept islam ie turn to good when their is no chance of killing prophet and his companions otherwise they will kill muslims. Now in this era this ayah is not applicable. Muslims cannot kill any disbelievet on account of it if they are not attacking muslims. Also physical jihad (qital) involves only defending not attacking.
    Also one ayah of great holy quran sataes muslims should not exceed limits with disbelievers they should do polite debates,talkings with disbelievers. Muslims should not force anyone to accept islam.
    I think if all these are made known to those muslim organizations which call themselves as jihadist they will understand it and their faults and not kill innocent non muslims.
    I don’t know how to contact them please anyone of you share them it all and save lives of many.
    Hope you will complete my request.

  8. […] donations through third party or shell charities in Gaza.  In terms of annual revenues, Hamas is one of the five wealthiest terrorist organizations […]

  9. […] UN reported in 2011 that at least $15 million of al-Shabaab’s annual revenues come from the charcoal and sugar trade.  The UN also found that networks of Somali businessmen […]

  10. Please my fellow people.i need financial help to start a business.save my life please before i join a terror group.my phone number is

    Plus 254789877571

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