WASHINGTON D.C.: The Islamic State (IS) has fast become one of the world’s wealthiest terror groups, generating tens of millions of dollars a month from black market oil sales, ransoms and extortion, officials said on Thursday (Friday in Manila).
It earns $1 million a day alone by selling crude oil from fields captured when the group swept across Iraq and Syria earlier this year, said David Cohen, Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.
Because the group, also known as ISIL, has “amassed wealth at an unprecedented pace” from different sources than most terror groups, it presents a particular challenge to the US working to choke off money flows.
“We have no silver bullet, no secret weapon to empty ISIL’s coffers overnight. This will be a sustained fight, and we are in the early stages,” Cohen said, outlining what he called a three-pronged effort.
IS is now “considered the world’s wealthiest and most financially sophisticated terrorist organization,” said Marwan Muasher, vice president at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Unlike Al-Qaeda, IS does not attract most of its funds from deep-pocketed rich donors, often in Gulf countries, or from state sponsors.
Yet “with the important exception of some state-sponsored terrorist organizations, ISIL is probably the best-funded terrorist organization we have confronted,” Cohen said, warning its revenue sources were “deep and diverse.”
Oil sales alone from captured refineries are allowing the militants to produce some 50,000 barrels a day sold “at substantially discounted prices to a variety of middlemen, including from Turkey,” who then resell it.