We’ve discussed previously the vast sources of funding that ISIS controls. Whether those funds come from their control (and smuggling) the region’s oil supply, or from the home governments and families of hostages, the steady stream of cash flowing into ISIS coffers enables its members to step out of the shadows and fight not only for territory, but for the hearts and minds of the people they threaten to savage.
From Yahoo News:
“With the important exception of some state-sponsored terrorist organizations, ISIL is probably the best-funded terrorist organization we have confronted,” Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen said on Thursday in a speech to a Washington,D.C., think tank. At a subsequent briefing at the White House, Cohen declined to provide an estimate of the group’s net worth today.
From mid-June until President Barack Obama unleashed airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against it, the Islamist organization scored $1 million per day from smuggled oil, Cohen said at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He declined to say how much the airstrikes, which began on Sept. 23, have sliced into the group’s oil revenue.
Their sources of funding go beyond what we’ve seen highlighted in the news. In addition to oil smuggling and kidnapping, ISIS enjoys healthy profits from local extortion schemes, the plundering of antiquities, and sex trafficking. A report from the American Foreign Press details how ISIS makes these schemes work: through use of legitimate, existing economic structures. For example, their oil smuggling scheme is so intricate that at one point, Syria was buying its own oil; the oil had been harvested on Syrian territory controlled by ISIS.