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Interviews with Iraqi, Kurdish, European, Syrian and American government officials, analysts and intelligence agents sketch a portrait of ISIS’s robust, sprawling, and efficient financial operation.
The terrorist group relies on a relatively complex system to manage its far-reaching networks.
“We’re talking about the destruction of humankind back to the beginning of humankind.”Royal Donors in the Gulf Grossing as much as million or more over the past two years, ISIS has accepted funding from government or private sources in the oil-rich nations of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait—and a large network of private donors, including Persian Gulf royalty, businessmen and wealthy families.
Until recently, all three countries had openly given hefty sums to rebels fighting Bashar Assad’s Syrian regime, among them ISIS.
A few users have said previously that they have trouble uploading photos.
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ISIS’s financial needs go beyond underwriting terror.
“It’s a huge financial package to support 8 million people—which is now the size of the population living in territories under ISIS control,” says Luay al-Khatteeb, visiting fellow of the Doha Brookings Center and director of the Iraq Energy Institute in Baghdad.
Small stills burn oil that is trucked in by the barrel load from the oil fields of Al Hasakah.
Many smugglers who traded Saddam’s oil across Iraq’s borders to Kuwait, Iran and Turkey are now working the same routes between ISIS-held Iraq and the outside world.
At its heart, the ISIS money machine runs on the fear—and greed—of the millions of people it controls. Treasury has declined to estimate the extent of ISIS’s total assets and revenue streams, but Cohen has called it “the best-funded terrorist organization” the U. has “ever confronted.” Militants parade through the streets of Raqqa, Syria in an undated image posted on Monday, June 30, 2014, by ISIS as propaganda.
They are believed to control hundreds of wells, an important source of income for ISIS and depriving Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government of a major source of income.
So how can ISIS, cut off from the rest of the world by financial and trade sanctions, and under daily aerial and land bombardment by some of the richest countries in the world, afford to maintain a well-armed military and pay other bills?