IS’s billions: rands welcome

2015-11-22 15:56


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Millions of rands from South Africa could be funding the Islamic State (IS), according to a Free State University professor who has conducted a study of how the IS gets its money.

It is estimated that the IS’s income from oil and fuel alone amounts to R14 million and R42 million a day, respectively. It is this money that finances attacks such as those in Paris and is helping the group to build up conventional military capacity.

Monapo Mokose and Professor Hussein Solomon from the University of the Free State’s political science department have concluded that the UN is powerless to ensure that all its member nations act against the IS.

Their study was released in a week that news broke of the death of a man in Iraq who had a South African driver’s licence on him. He has been described as an “IS leader”.

The licence is in the name of Aqeel Kloberie (44), a South African from Durban.

Graphic videos posted on show how Iraqi soldiers and militias from Hashd al-Sha’abi were involved in a skirmish in the al-Makhoul mountains north of Tikrit, Iraq. At the end of the video, one of the IS fighters is dragged from the battlefield. One of the soldiers finally puts his foot on the body – the same body the driver’s licence was retrieved from.

According to the Iraqi ambassador in Pretoria, a Durban resident phoned during the week to enquire about Kloberie. The caller said the man had gone to work in the Middle East earlier this year.

International relations spokesperson Clayson Monyela said the department was aware of the incident.

Meanwhile, Mokose and Solomon found that Turkey, a member of the UN Security Council, is one of the countries secretly buying fuel from the IS at discounted rates.

Although Qatar and Saudi Arabia are signatories to the UN’s guidelines, and even support the West in its bombings of IS facilities, it suits Saudi Arabia to support the IS financially in its own effort to suppress the resurgence of Iran. Turkey also helped to supply weapons and soldiers during the group’s early days.

The IS has control over the richest oil fields in Syria and Iraq, which produce a combined 48 000 barrels of oil a day.

According to Solomon and Mokose’s study, most of this production is smuggled into the south of Turkey, where some of that country’s richest businesspeople buy the cheap fuel and sell it at huge margins at Turkish filling stations.

A Toyota dealer in Erbil, northwest of Baghdad, sells vehicles by the dozen to the IS.

As for financial support from South Africa, Solomon estimates that at least one recent incident convinced him that about R78 million in cash – in rands and dollars – would have been on its way to the IS. The money was seized by SA Revenue Service (Sars) officials at OR Tambo International Airport from five individuals carrying altogether 11 suitcases full of cash. They had been planning to board a flight to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

When the group saw the officials heading their way, they tried to turn around, but the gates had already been shut, trapping them.

The Hawks are busy investigating the group’s final destination and complaints against them, since they did not initially declare the money. Their excuse was that the money had been intended for the purchase of goods in Dubai for export to South Africa.

Solomon said: “I am convinced at least a portion of this money would have gone to the IS.”

Sars said its officials were investigating the case and the money had not been released. The Asset Forfeiture Unit was also involved.

Sars is not yet sure about what the money was intended for and whether it was indeed meant for the purchase of “electronic items to be sold in South Africa”. Four of those in the group have South African passports and one is a Briton. The investigation will determine if any of their travel documents are falsified. None of the group’s members were charged, although a host of possible charges were being investigated, said a Sars spokesperson. 

Read more on:    sars  |  islamic state

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