Posts Tagged ‘Syria’


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…


Indonesia says terror financing “kingpin” is native Australian

September 15, 2015

Indonesia’s financial intelligence unit has traced the source of half a million dollars for jihad in Syria:  an Australian man married to a Javanese woman.  An Indonesian official says, “That man collected money from many people in Australia” (emphasis mine).  Hopefully this intelligence is being shared with Australian intelligence and law enforcement.  From the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (h/t @skinroller) on Sept. 13:

Australian man linked to cash supporting terrorism, sending fighters to Syria: Indonesia

Indonesian authorities have revealed they have linked an Australian man to $500,000 they suspect has been used to support terrorism and send Indonesian nationals to Syria to fight with Islamic State.

The Australian man is married to an Indonesian woman who the ABC understands is from Java but is now living in Australia.

In an exclusive interview with the ABC, Agus Santoso, the deputy chair of Indonesia’s financial intelligence body Intrac, said they had tracked 5 billion rupiah from bank accounts in Australia that has been transferred to at least 10 accounts in Indonesia.

“That man collected money from many people in Australia. Then he sent it to his wife’s account in Indonesia,” Mr Santoso said.

“So this Indonesian woman was used to open some bank accounts which we suspect have links with terrorism suspects.

“What is surprising is that the kingpin is not an immigrant. In my opinion he is native Australian, not an immigrant. I mean, he is white.”

Intrac, also known as the Financial Transactions and Analysis Centre (PPATK), has tracked the money since 2012 and said some of the funds were still active in Indonesian accounts.

Mr Santoso said he strongly suspected the money was being used to send Indonesians to Syria, while also funding IS recruitment to strengthen the terrorist network in Indonesia.

He said $500,000 goes a long way in Indonesia.

“It only costs $250 to make a bomb,” he said…


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…


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.


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…


Loans by text pay jihadists’ way to Syria

July 13, 2015

Swedish Islamists are taking out loans through text message services to join the battle in Syria.  They use the borrowed funds to buy plane tickets, cars and, presumably, other equipment when they arrive.  Sweden’s security agency says that a majority of fighters’ travels are debt-financed.  Thus the lenders are violating the first rule of lending:  character.  What kind of screening are these small lenders performing on their borrowers?  So much for knowing your customer.

From The Local on June 22 (h/t Moscow Ghost):

SMS loans fund Syria terror trips from Sweden

Sweden’s Security Service (Säpo) has warned that growing numbers of muslims are funding trips to Syria with money secured via text message loans secured in Sweden.

Investigators working for the security service told Sveriges Radio that there had been a rise in people taking trips to the Middle East to fight alongside terror organisations such as Isis (also known as IS) over the last year, with growing numbers of visits funded by loans taken out in Sweden.

Martin Frimansson, an expert on terrorist funding at Säpo, explained that while some Swedes had borrowed money from banks or using Swedish credit cards, others had paid for their travel using SMS loans (money borrowed via text message from private companies) or made their way to Syria and Iraq using cars rented in Sweden.

According to Frimansson, a “clear majority” of trips were made possible due to loans, although he did not give any specific figures.

He suggested that some Swedes were also taking out loans in order to raise their status within Isis or other terror groups.

“It could be that if you have a car and money…you automatically become a team leader. If you have no money when you arrive, no car or anything – then maybe you’ll be the ambulance driver,” he said.

By law, credit companies and banks are required to adhere to a range of measures designed to prevent the financing of terror activities, but according to Säpo the trend for Swedes borrowing money for suspect trips to the Middle East suggests that much more needs to be done.

The security service is calling on lenders to file reports on people who are failing to repay their loans more quickly and to be stricter about who they lend money to in the first place.

“They are the first hurdle to stopping terrorist financing. It is a big responsibility,” said Frimansson.

In April, Säpo told The Local there was “very little” it could do to stop people travelling to Syria to join al-Qaeda inspired groups, as EU officials estimated up to 6,000 people from across Europe have now fought in the war-torn nation.

It confirmed that at least 150 Swedish residents were known to have been to Syria or Iraq to fight for Isis or other extremist groups, with intelligence suggesting that at least 35 had died in the process.

Earlier this year, Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad also told Sweden’s tabloid newspaper Expressen that he believed some of “the most dangerous leaders of Daesh and Isis in our region are Scandinavian”…


Turkey’s 2014 surge of exports to Syria coincided with surge of of ISIS

July 10, 2015

A recent research paper on the Syrian economy included an instructive revelation.  Chatham House fellow Hayder al-Khoei drew special attention in a tweet to the off-hand but crucial finding in the report: that Syria’s economy grew 80 percent in 2014 due to a spike in Turkish imports that coincided with the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.  Specifically, the report found:

… It is not clear what caused this surge in Turkish exports, but it coincided with the height of the advances by ISIS in both Iraq and Syria, and some of the additional sales could have been accounted for by additional procurement from Turkey by ISIS – for example steel pipes and sections for oil refining projects…  (p. 26)

It won’t be proven in a court of law, but it is clear what Chatham House is suggesting.  It is clear what readers will take from this.  And it has been clear for some time that ISIS would not have been able to surge to such a dominant position in Iraq without extensive cross-border Turkish support.  Money Jihad reported on the very phenomenon of Turkey’s contributions to ISIS almost to the day one year ago.

Hat tip to Moscow Ghost.


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