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Jihadist ops and wages dominate ISIS’s expenses

April 26, 2015

How does the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria spend its millions (or billions)? The Congressional Research Service offers this summary of ISIS expenditures (h/t El Grillo):

The Islamic State has established a network of ministries to govern the territory it controls and has sought able administrators. IS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi in a July 2014 audio recording called for “scientists, scholars, preachers, judges, doctors, engineers and people with administrative expertise of all domains” to move to the Islamic State, which required their expertise. In December 2014, the IS Office of Zakat—a finance ministry equivalent—announced that it would give a series of assessment tests to recruit new staff. The office said it was seeking candidates with PhDs in Islamic law and economics, as well as those with high school diplomas. The Islamic State in late 2014 also announced plans to mint its own currency out of gold, silver, and copper, but as of early 2015 this had not materialized. Iraqi sources in January 2015 stated that the Islamic State had established its own bank in Mosul, which granted loans and accepted deposits.

The Islamic State approved a $2 billion dollar budget for the year in early 2015, including a projected $250 million dollar surplus, designed to cover the costs of operations in both Iraq and Syria. Some have argued that despite this budget, the group does not generate enough revenue to fully cover all of its expenses. In addition to the cost of military operations, the Islamic State must also provide salaries, maintain and repair infrastructure, and fill other state functions, such as the provision of social services…

CRS further estimates that ISIS pays each unmarried fighter $400 to $600 a month.  That’s about 10 times higher than prior research showed. An estimate of infrastructure and service delivery was not provided.

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