Posts Tagged ‘Islamic State of Iraq’

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Britain cites Turkish transit of Syrian terror cash

October 19, 2015

British authorities have drawn attention to Turkey’s role as a transit point for the illegal flow of money from the U.K. into the hands of terrorists in Syria.  From the new report, “UK national risk assessment of money laundering and terrorist financing,” published by HM Treasury and the Home Office:

…Most recently, police investigations have shown that MSBs [money services businesses] are being used to send funds to Turkey and Egypt, eventually reaching foreign fighters in Syria. Funds are typically broken down in to smaller amounts to avoid the need to provide identification and to avoid detection. Intelligence also indicates that employees have been known to facilitate funds to terrorists through their position within MSBs…

… Amal El-Wahabi was convicted in 2014 for coercing a friend to carry 20,000 Euros (£15,800) to Turkey in an attempt to fund her husband’s jihad for ISIL in Syria…

…Turkey is a key hub for the flow of funds to Syria for terrorist use. Intelligence suggests that cash has been withdrawn from ATMs on the border of Turkey and Syria by foreign fighters engaged in fighting in Syria. Turkey does not control the full length of its land border and there are plentiful routes for smuggling goods and people into Syria. The movement of oil from ISIL controlled areas through a network of middle-men, and the risk of it moving through Turkey, is also of concern…

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Raid lifted veil on ISIS’s smuggling records

October 15, 2015

Recently declassified materials show the extent to which an Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) financier used antiquities smuggling for revenues.  The scope of ISIS’s reliance on smuggling artifacts has been a point of disagreement among analysts for several years.  The indications from a May raid against ISIS are that at least hundreds of millions of dollars worth of transactions have been involved.  Roll tape from CBS News:

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ISIS slashes their fighters’ paychecks

October 7, 2015

The Islamic State of Iraq has cut the wages for jihadists from about $400 to $100.  Is it a sign that ISIS is struggling financially, or is it an indication that they’re able to cut wages and still attract volunteers?  It’s unclear from this report from the Mirror whether ISIS is able to replenish the fighters that have left for Syria in search of better wages.  Hat tip to Shariah Finance Watch:

Hundreds of Isis killers give up terrorism after chiefs cut pay by £200 a month

Hundreds of Islamic State terror fighters are deserting the cause – after their wages were slashed. 

The killers were on £260 a month until cash shortages forced the lower rate of £65…

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5 men caught smuggling $6m for ISIS

September 24, 2015

The $6 million is only the tip of the iceberg.  According to South African law enforcement, one of the men made the same trip every couple days.  But even if it were only $6 million, that is a big amount of cash to smuggle anywhere.  It’s surprising they could even squeeze that much money into 12 bags they were reportedly carrying.  (Maybe it was vacuum packed?)  No wonder why this report says there was inside help.  From Fox News on Sept. 21 (h/t @AllSourceFusion):

Five men nabbed last month about to board a flight at South Africa’s busiest airport with $6 million stuffed in bags may have made hundreds of such trips — with inside help — as part of a cash pipeline to fund the Islamic State, police sources said Monday.

The suspected couriers were caught at Johannesburg’s main airport, OR Tambo, on Aug. 28, but news the money was headed for the terror network only emerged late Sunday. A senior police officer told Fox News Monday the suspects are believed to have been headed for the ISIS caliphate in Syria and Iraq by way of Dubai, and that one may have made the same trek hundreds of times.

“It is very likely that the money was going to ISIS,” the police officer said. “We are investigating who these five carrying the money were, and there is one … we are particularly interested in, as records show he was flying to Dubai every two days for a year”…

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ISIS forbids interest-based banking in Libya

September 17, 2015

Islamic State operatives in Sirte, Libya, have ordered banks there to close because they profit from charging interest.  ISIS told the banks that they “must change to Islamic banking” before they can reopen.  If you know somebody who still doubts the connections between sharia-compliant banking and terrorism, please forward them this article from the Libya Herald (h/t @moscow_ghost):

IS closes banks in Sirte; orders them to change to Sharia banking

By Libya Herald reporter.

Tripoli, 13 September 2015:

A source in Sirte has told the Libya Herald that the Islamic State (IS) forces in the town had not taken over and looted the Central Bank, as widely reported earlier.

What happened, according to the source, was that on Thursday, IS went to all banks in the town and closed them. They ordered all staff to turn up to the main mosque on Friday after evening prayer to repent for having being involved in dealing with interest (usury or riba) and ask for forgiveness.  Most went.

The banks must change to Islamic banking, IS has demanded. When they have made the change, they can re-open, the source said…

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Terror financial news: suggested reading

September 10, 2015
  • “Iran will get hundreds of billions of dollars from sanctions relief and investments to fuel its aggression and terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa and beyond,” says Israel’s prime minister… more>>
  • Shurat Hadin is pursuing legal action to stop the Iran deal until the victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorism are compensated… more>>
  • Lawyers for the “British” beheader for ISIS known as “Jihadi John” are fleecing the government for legal defense fees, even though they don’t live in Britain either… more>>
  • An Amnesty International director and her husband have been outed as Muslim Brotherhood supporters… more>>
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ISIS’s economy smaller and shabbier than Iraq’s

September 8, 2015

Given the territory it controls, the economic prospects of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are crummy, researchers have argued.  Oil notwithstanding, the economies of northern Syria and western and northern Iraq weren’t so great to begin with before the rise of ISIS (also known as Daesh).  The economy in areas of ISIS control has probably worsened given the number of people who have fled or who otherwise lost their jobs when ISIS took control.  On top of that, ISIS spends its money on aggression, not on public service delivery.

This is a persuasive argument.  It has a bit more substance to it than the usual happy talk from than speeches from U.S. Treasury Department officials.  Kudos to Jamie Hansen-Lewis and Jacob N. Shapiro for their research, which was published in the journal Perspectives on Terrorism (hat tip to El Grillo).  A salient excerpt from their article follows:

…Daesh has limited economic activity to draw on. Daesh area’s total economic activity according to G-Econ was at most one-fifth of the rest of Iraq’s and one-third of the rest of Syria’s. Using the more refined DMSP-OLS data the group’s poverty is equally stark, with 2012 illumination in the regions it now controls amounting to no more than one-third of the rest of Syria and one-eighth of the rest of Iraq.

And these methods almost surely overestimate Daesh’s current revenue base. First, we included areas of Daesh support from which their economy might draw in part, but it is not clear how much authority the group has to extract in these areas. Second, we use pre-war data, but the massive population movements that accompanied the Daesh takeover means these areas surely have less economic activity than they did in 1990 (for the GEcon data) or 2012 (for the DMSP-OLS data).[39]

Assuming Daesh is able to transform that economic activity into military spending at rates similar to comparably sized states we should not expect it to be able to sustain large defense expenditures. Worldwide defense expenditures peak at 10.2% of GDP in South Sudan, with many conflict-affected countries spending only 3% of GDP on defense.[40] Countries close to Daesh’s Gross Cell Product had a 2014 GDP of approximately $30B or $4,700 per capita. Combined with the range of observed expenditures this suggests the group could support defense expenditures in the range of $900M to $3B per year. While Daesh’s potential spending totals are large compared to its economic neighbors, they pale in comparison to Iraq’s 2014 spending of $9.5B, Turkey’s $20B, UAE’s $22.6B, or Saudi Arabia’s $80B.[41] While spending clearly translates only indirectly into military power, the gap between what is monetarily feasible for Daesh over the long-run and what its neighbors spend is striking.

Moreover, if we turn to the population under Daesh’s control it is fairly sparse…

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Update: oil grosses ISIS $8-10m monthly

July 27, 2015

U.S. officials say new figures on oil revenues of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are more accurate than previous estimates.  The new figures suggest ISIS receives about $100 million a year.  NBC reports that the revenues are “three times as much” as previously thought, but that’s not really true.  A 2014 estimate from a Turkish opposition official was of $800 million a year.  So the headline could have been changed to “eight times less,” but it’s still good to have updated information.  From NBC News (h/t Mia):

ISIS Makes Three Times as Much from Oil Smuggling as Previously Thought: Officials

Two U.S. counter-terrorism officials tell NBC News that intelligence gathered from a U.S. raid in Syria details ISIS finances, revealing millions of dollars in oil wealth.

“The more time on target, the better the estimate,” a senior U.S. official told NBC News. U.S. intelligence agencies have spent a lot of “time on target” since the target, ISIS, emerged just over a year ago. As a result, their understanding of the group’s workings is becoming more intimate.

Oil smuggling, much of it to Turkey, is a key source of income for ISIS. The group uses the money in part to pay its fighters monthly salaries and provide stipends to their families. Foreign fighters tend to be the highest paid of the ISIS recruits, earning as much as a $1,000 a month, according to two Syrian sources.

ISIS, unlike al-Qaeda, sees itself as a state, providing an education and welfare system, which means the group has high running costs. Two U.S. counter-terrorism officials now tell NBC News that the amount of money ISIS can earn from selling and smuggling oil and gas is roughly to $8 to $10 million a month. The officials said this is the most accurate information they have had so far, calling previous estimates speculation.

“We have learned more about the internal market. ISIS sells oil and gas everywhere. It sells within Syria, and to the Syrian regime. It sells in Iraq. It is a more extensive and complex market than we assumed,” a senior counter-terrorism official said.

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What can be done: looting counter-offensive

July 21, 2015

Deutsche Welle has interviewed archeologist Mark Altaweel about the Islamic State of Iraq’s plundering of antiquities.  DW asked Altaweel what can be done to help stop this problem, and he offered some good ideas:

First, try to learn a little bit from blood diamonds – put a stigma on these things so that people are not buying ancient antiquities. It’s hard to say for a lot of these things if they are truly coming from Syria or Iraq. I think if we put a negative stigma on buying antiquities – that would help. It’s not completely possible for the police to control this.

Second, I do think we need some kind of high-profile police action to put a little more deterrence and certainly tighten up the laws and continue to pressure countries like Turkey and Lebanon [to stop] receiving these objects near their borders. I know Turkey has been clamping down a little more lately, which is good. But Lebanon certainly needs to be held accountable.

Good point.  A UN resolution and a lawsuit by a dig site in Iraq against a museum in Istanbul or Beirut won’t get very far very fast.  But putting some dealers in jail immediately would make a definite impression.  Or arrest some of the middlemen smugglers and get them to turn against their overlords.

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How Baathists cashed in before checking out

July 19, 2015

Further clues have emerged that that the looting of museums following the 2003 invasion of Iraq wasn’t really the result of lax security or random looters from the street.  It was probably a systematic inside job by an organized syndicate of corrupt Baathist officials before they went underground.  The antiquities they stole were either sold to help fund the insurgency or were kept by former officials who later joined AQI which became ISIS.

At least the Washington Post reported on the discovery (h/t MFS001), although it buried the most important connection in paragraph 15 of a 17 paragraph article (in bold below, emphasis mine):

Artifacts looted during the Iraq invasion turned up in the house of an Islamic State leader

BAGHDAD — The United States handed over more than 400 ancient artifacts to Iraq on Wednesday, part of ongoing efforts to repatriate the country’s looted heritage. But this latest batch has a particularly intriguing back story — the antiquities were seized by U.S. Special Operations forces members as they raided the house of a leader of the Islamic State militant group.

The nighttime operation to capture the militant took place in eastern Syria in May, and the Delta Force troops did not come back with their prize. It was their first such ground mission in the country, and their main target, a man known as Abu Sayyaf who ran oil operations for the Islamic State in the area, was killed in an ensuing firefight.

But as the commandos scoured the compound for documents and laptops that could provide intelligence about the organization, they stumbled across artifacts thought to be dating back as far as 4,000 years.

Among them was a religious text written in Aramaic, the ancient Semitic language said to have been spoken by Jesus. An official at the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad said Wednesday that it was about 500 years old but has not yet been properly dated. (Museum officials also said that, as with many of the items found, they could not be sure whether the text was of Syrian or Iraqi origin.)

There were hundreds of coins — some of them gold from the Abbassid era, others silver pieces from the Umayyad period. There were stone cylindrical seals from the ancient city of Nimrud and fragments of pottery.

The presence of the artifacts in Abu Sayyaf’s house is perhaps not surprising. The Islamic State’s “Diwan al-Rikaz” — a ministry overseeing precious resources — has departments in charge of both oil and gas and antiquities. Abu Sayyaf may well have had a role in the sale of these resources…

…Among the items found in the house were three Babylonian stone seals, which officials said were stolen in 2003 from the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad during the chaos that followed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Their museum numbering is still visible…

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More benefit fraud for jihad

July 17, 2015

British leaders are finally starting to realize that benefit fraud by Islamists isn’t just about private greed.  The stolen benefits are actually being used by men and women to join the battle in Syria and Iraq against perceived infidels.  The Muslim British youngsters have taken the teachings of Anjem Choudary and others to heart, learning that it is acceptable to steal money from infidel countries through their generous welfare programs so long as that money is used in furtherance of jihad.

From the Daily Mail (h/t El Grillo):

ISIS jihadis in Syria and Iraq are funding their evil war by milking Britain’s benefits system through false claims, online fraud and student loans

  • Experts fear that jihadis have committed frauds to abuse welfare system 
  • DWP has launched a probe to establish the extent of the fraud 
  • Hundreds of Brits are believed to have joined ISIS in Iraq and Syria
  • First time the Whitehall department has admitted the fraudulent claims

ISIS terrorists are abusing the UK benefits system to fund their holy war in Iraq and Syria, authorities fear.

Hundreds of Brits are believed to have travelled abroad to fight with ISIS and many of them are still believed to be claiming taxpayer-funded benefits.

Experts believe jihadists have committed a number of high-level frauds to deliberately abuse the welfare system.

While a number of countries do have benefits agreements with the UK that allow British citizens to continue claiming state hand-outs, Iraq and Syria are not among them.

But the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) Fraud and Error Service has launched a series of reviews after people living in Iraq and Syria successfully pocketed UK benefits…