ISIS militants now world's richest

2014-10-23 22:25

Washington - The Islamic State (ISIS) has become the world's wealthiest terror group, generating tens of millions of dollars a month from black market oil sales, ransoms and extortion, officials said on Thursday.

It earns $1m 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 under-secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

Because the group, also known as ISIL (ISIS), has "amassed wealth at an unprecedented pace" from different sources than most terror groups, it presents a particular challenge to the US and its allies working to choke off money flows.

"We have no silver bullet, no secret weapon to empty ISIS's coffers overnight. This will be a sustained fight, and we are in the early stages," Cohen said.

He is among a team of Obama administration officials leading the fight against the ISIS group, seeking to get allies, including Gulf countries, on board.

ISIS is now "considered the world's wealthiest and most financially sophisticated terrorist organisation," said Marwan Muasher, vice president at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Unlike Al-Qaeda, ISIS 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 organisations, ISIS is probably the best-funded terrorist organisation we have confronted," Cohen said, warning its revenue sources were "deep and diverse".

The group's "primary funding tactics enable it today to generate tens of millions of dollars per month," he told the think-tank.

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 middle men, including some from Turkey, who then transport the oil to be resold."


Oil has also been sold to Kurds in Iraq, and then resold to Turkey, as it has "tapped into a long-standing and deeply rooted black market connecting traders in and around the area."

Even Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime, which is fighting ISIS as well as the moderate US-backed opposition, has got in on the act and "made an arrangement to purchase oil from ISIS" - from fields and refineries once under Syrian control.

The group has also pocketed about $20m this year through kidnappings, particularly of journalists and European hostages.

And it demands money from local businesses in cities and towns which it has captured through "a sophisticated extortion racket".

US air strikes were impeding the militants' ability to produce oil, and Turkish and Kurdish authorities have pledged to stop oil smuggling on their territory.

Cohen also vowed the US would hit hard against those found buying illegal oil.

"The middlemen, traders, refiners, transport companies, and anyone else that handles ISIS's oil should know that we are hard at work identifying them, and that we have tools at hand to stop them," he warned.

Sanctions would follow, he said, and it would not just be a question of cutting them off from the US banking system.

"We can also make it very difficult for them to find a bank anywhere that will touch their money or process their transactions," Cohen said.

Washington is also working with its allies to follow the hard line taken by the US, and refuse to pay ransoms to free kidnap victims.

Gulf countries are "enormously important in the anti-ISIS coalition for a whole variety of reasons, including the counter-financing aspect."

Significant progress has been made in countries like Saudi and the United Arab Emirates, Cohen said, both nations he has visited in the push against ISIS.

But in Qatar and Kuwait, seen in the past as "permissive jurisdictions for terrorist financing... there is more work to be done."

Despite the group's wealth, however, it still does not have enough money to pay for basic services to Iraqis in territory it has captured, and could face local opposition, Cohen said.

"The official Iraqi budget this year for the provinces where ISIS currently operates is well over $2bn," he said, noting that there were already reports of water and power shortages.

  • Dagbekruiper - 2014-10-23 20:59

    A heading i agree with. Its all about the money.

      Andrew Terr - 2014-10-23 21:14

      Moolah or Moulana?

  • Linda Yates - 2014-10-23 21:14

    America losing out

      Akhenaten C.T. - 2014-10-23 21:32

      Or it may be the reason for them to be there.

      Hosni Mubar - 2014-10-23 21:57

      The US is now the biggest oil producer in the world, having surpassed Saudi Arabia. OPEC's own projection: the US will import ZERO oil from the Middle East by 2025. So much for your blind prejudice.

      Alan Yates - 2014-10-24 09:08

      @News24: please delete this facebook impersonator troll posting.

      Hosni Mubar - 2014-10-24 13:34

      JP, you're being stupid.

      Hosni Mubar - 2014-10-24 15:35

      JP, actually, if you did were not blindly prejudiced, you would know that US oil companies were awarded virtually no tenders in Iraq.

  • William B. - 2014-10-23 21:19

    Who's buying that oil from them?? Think we'll be surprised!

      Hosni Mubar - 2014-10-24 13:36

      And the anti-US fools will make up lots of stories and place themselves further in lalaland. Not that Snowden is wrong, just that you are JP. You obviously have no idea what is reallyl happening in the world and like to find any angle to oppose the US.

      Hosni Mubar - 2014-10-24 15:36

      Try another one, JP.

  • Nozipho Mayihlome - 2014-10-23 21:32

    america wants a cut:. they probably are the ones that created isis...i will never trust anything from super powers;they always think they are God ruling and running things in the world

      Hosni Mubar - 2014-10-23 21:55

      A ridiculous, ignorant idea.

      Willie Leicesteri - 2014-10-24 11:06

      4 gdns syk, Hanzou, lrn 2 wrt wrds. U r nt on yr phn now

      Eugene Engelbrecht - 2014-10-24 14:08

      I agree. ..... Nkosi Sikalele.....

  • Hosni Mubar - 2014-10-23 21:38

    Their revenue stream is diminishing by the day. It will be expunged shortly.

      Sesame Macala - 2014-10-23 21:53

      Americano must not forget Libya.They started the fire now Libya is inflames.

      Hosni Mubar - 2014-10-23 22:00


  • Chris Jay - 2014-10-23 21:41

    Now i see why US is bombing them. Coz they are seating on what they like the most, oil.

      Hosni Mubar - 2014-10-23 21:53

      So silly. Clearly you have little idea what is really happening.

      Hosni Mubar - 2014-10-23 22:13

      The US is the largest oil producer now, having overtaken Saudi Arabia.

      Keri Owings - 2014-10-24 02:58

      If they really wanted that oil why bother bombing ISIS? Why didn't they just take out Assad a few years back and steal the oil? Or simpler still, buy the oil on the downlow from Assad. That would have been a far less expensive solution than a drawn out bombing campaign. If they are truly that desperate, why not skip Syria altogether and just invade Nigeria? If they had really wanted to, the US could have invaded back when Boko Haram kidnapped those poor girls last Spring. They asked Goodluck Jonathan, at the time, if he wanted their assistance. He said no. They could have told him to get stuffed, invaded under the pretext of fighting Boko Haram, and simply stolen Nigeria's oil. They didn't. For once they actually chose to respect another country's sovereignty. As for ISIS, the Iraqi government specifically requested US assistance fighting ISIS.

      Hosni Mubar - 2014-10-24 13:38

      Well said, Keri. Some people are so stupid.

  • Hans Hilzinger - 2014-10-23 21:43

    So now we arrive at the real reason these supposed madmen are at work. For the majority it is what it is. For the orchestrators of this chaos a means to an end. Untold wealth. This struggle has nothing to do with religion.

      Hosni Mubar - 2014-10-23 21:54

      Wealth and domination of women.

  • JeanClaude Vandamme - 2014-10-23 23:40

    can we also get this discounted oil coz petrol is too expensive

      Hosni Mubar - 2014-10-24 13:40

      In Iran, JP is a supporter of a regime almost as bad as ISIL. At least his trues colours are showing.

      Hosni Mubar - 2014-10-24 15:27

      JP also supports brutal, narcissistic dictators such as Moamar Gaddafi because they give free education and health care while they murder and pillage. The Apartheid regime justified its existence the same way.

  • Koos Koekkies - 2014-10-24 00:40

    I thought that this was a religious war. Now I see it's not. it?

  • Sefako Mokgalaka - 2014-10-24 06:03

    As much as I hate the beheading of innocent people in the middle east, I don't see what's the business of the US in that region either. The real war in Iraq and Syria has got nothing to do with terrorism but all to do with oil. Those guys will do anything to protect their oil.

      Douglas Hollis - 2014-10-24 08:52

      Check your facts. Iraq ASKED them for help. And they prevented an outright massacre of tens of thousands of Yazidi's, while the rest of the world was sitting on their hands and watching it all unfold on CNN. Maybe you haven't thought this through - ISIS poses a direct threat to the civilised world. Including not just the US, but the entire Middle East. They are the embodiment of evil, and needed to be stopped before they could grow in power and commit untold atrocities. At least the West is trying to do something about it, I don't see China, Russia or Japan lifting a finger. Same as with the ebola crisis, oddly enough.

      Hosni Mubar - 2014-10-24 13:42

      You love to blame the US and are too lazy to do your research. The real war in the Middle East is the Shia-Sunni fight that has been raging for 1,200 years, long before the US was ever formed. Wake up and stop being lazy.

      Hosni Mubar - 2014-10-24 15:29

      JP, the Sunni-Shia fight has been raging for 1,200 years, long before the US ever existed. About Vietnam, that was during the Cold War, in response to Soviet Communism. The Soviet Union was invading countries across the world. Wake up.

      Andrew Newman - 2014-10-24 18:26

      In 2013 American oil imports from Iraq was 4% which is about 2% of their total oil requirements and Afghanistan has no oil. Most of America's imported oil comes from Canada (33%) and Saudi Arabia 17%. Since 2008 American oil production has increased by 60% and last month they imported no oil from Nigeria. The price of oil is falling because America is importing less which means there is more for everyone else (supply and demand sets the price). Oil is important but it's not the reason for their involvement. Having a moderate government in Iraq taken over by ISIS is a very real threat to everyone who does not support radical Islamic fundamentalism.

  • Paulson Meziri - 2014-10-24 06:38

    US and South Africa who need oil most, at least they have oil in their seas but S.A. zero. Hypocrisy and envy

  • Nizaam Saban - 2014-10-24 07:20

    The "best funded terrorist organisation" is the US!

      Hosni Mubar - 2014-10-24 13:43

      The most stupid person in the world is Nizaam, who believes anything he is told, even the most obtuse, self-destructive ideas.

  • Sean Mitchell - 2014-10-24 07:50

    Daryl Love. Are you a one man opinion poll organisation? I love it when people thumb suck a specific percentage and then accuse normal, rational people of ignorance. Your claim that the USA has no resources shows your depth of knowledge.

      Willie Leicesteri - 2014-10-24 11:13

      What do you want Sean to prove wrong? The onus is on you to prove your so-called facts, dummy!

      Hosni Mubar - 2014-10-24 13:44

      Daryl is very gullible.

  • Sean Mitchell - 2014-10-24 08:15

    Daryl. It is you that made an absurd assertion so it is for you to defend it. Where did you get your figure of 90%? Where did you get the clearly false idea that the USA has no resources? I'm waiting for your answer.

  • David Van Schalkwyk - 2014-10-24 08:28


  • David Van Schalkwyk - 2014-10-24 08:30

    The west is involved to try and protect the millions off innocent people that are being killed by ISIS.

      Hosni Mubar - 2014-10-24 13:46

      Sarel and JP are in good, albeit looney, company with each other.

  • CyberDog Breath - 2014-10-24 09:54

    "The Islamic State (ISIS) has become the world's wealthiest terror group." Is there a top ten terror group list that we do not know about. They are more wealthy than what other terror group? Was this a competition? They cant seriously be having all their money in cash? Big duffle bags of american dollar bills lined up inside all their american humvee's, protected by their american rifles? There is no possible way these thugs could have gotten so far without America. Seriously, WTF?

      Hosni Mubar - 2014-10-24 13:48

      There is a top-ten terror group list that YOU do not know about.

      Hosni Mubar - 2014-10-24 13:49

      Newsflash: the Shia-Suni fight has been raging in the Middle East for 1,200 years, long before the US existed.

      Eugene Engelbrecht - 2014-10-24 14:02

      Hahaha so true! And this week the new terrs to take the number one slot on the Pentagon Top 10 after weeks at number 4 is....... hahaha

  • Sean Mitchell - 2014-10-24 10:41

    Sarel. Please provide a breakdown of your figure of 30 million.

      Hosni Mubar - 2014-10-24 13:47

      Sarel believes the US created Ebola and attacked itself on 9/11. I kid you not. His words on this website. The former today in the Ebola story.

      Hosni Mubar - 2014-10-24 13:50

      Created as in manufactured for propaganda.

  • Eugene Engelbrecht - 2014-10-24 14:06

    Is ISIS so well oiled or is it the oil barons who continue to monopolise the world's single biggest war motive.... Greed!

      Hosni Mubar - 2014-10-24 15:31

      The oil barons? What does this have to do with extremist Islam and the Shia-Sunni fight that has been raging in the region for 1,200 years?

  • sayitasitis - 2014-11-01 22:02

    One small step for man one big nuclear bomb on isis

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