by Firaz Korraim
The Islamic State militant group, better known as Daesh, emerged in April 2013 and believes in establishing a Caliphate. In order to expand its state, it needs a large number of fighters to be lured and recruited from all over the world. This requires large amounts of money to be paid to these fighters. Development in the military field also needs a lot of money, so the organisation has started to look for adequate resources to ensure its continuation and development.
In the beginning, the organisation’s budget was estimated at tens of millions of dollars which was obtained through stealing money, imposing taxes and seizing humanitarian relief aid from international organisations in exchange for allowing their transit through the areas under its control.
However, seizing Mosul in Iraq in June 2014 was a major turning point for the organisation in terms of its financial position. Many claim that the group’s capital is at no less than $2 billion, which was obtained through trading in oil, antiquities, human organs, jizya tax, trading in slaves and kidnapping ransom, as well as looting money and grain from silos. The organisation also obtained gold worth at least $430 million.
Daesh’s resources include the following:
Daesh and the selling of oil
The organisation depends on oil as a main source of funding, as it controls seven small wells in northern Iraq and their revenues alone ensure self-sufficiency for the group. The wells produce between 30,000 and 80,000 barrels of oil per day, making the group between $1.5 and $2 million a day. The group is fighting in Iraq to control Baiji, one of the largest oil facilities in northern Iraq.
In Syria, the organisation controls 60 per cent of the oil fields whose production capacity amounts to 180,000 barrels per day.
The product is sold on the black market at prices ranging from $10 to $18 per barrel. The organisation also seeks to capture Jezel, Syria’s largest oil field located near the city of Tadmor (Palmyra).
The oil is being filtered using primitive methods or through temporary refineries and sold in the form of gasoline on the local market or used for special purposes, and the rest is exported by tankers and not the specialised oil pipelines.
The primitive and haphazard refining of oil is done without giving any attention to the environmental aspects in terms of the emission of toxic substances and away from energy protection techniques to maintain safety. These wells will stop producing after a short period of time due to the formation of vacuums in the layers of the earth as no water or gas are being pumped to compensate for the drawn oil. The earth’s surface in this area becomes weak and susceptible to earthquakes in the long run. This is besides the environmental pollution caused by the emerging elements which move to the soil as well as the subterranean water, causing a real environmental disaster that is considered highly dangerous to human health.
Oil tankers are being transferred through the Turkish territories and northern Iraq, and then to the European countries through the Mediterranean Sea.
US Assistant Undersecretary of the Treasury David Cohen said the brokers in Iraq’s Kurdistan and Turkey are buying Daesh’s oil.
European Union Commissioner in Iraq Jana Hischova said at the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs session that a number of EU countries bought crude oil from Daesh at cheap prices and carried it via Iraqi Kurdish and Turkish borders.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said at a hearing session of the US Congress on foreign affairs that Daesh sells oil through some neighboring countries.
Director of the Russian Federal Security Service Organisation Alexander Bortnikov said at a meeting of the Commonwealth session in the capital of Kazakhstan that the black market for Middle East oil has become the main financier of Daesh.
Daesh and the smuggling of antiquities
Daesh seeks to reach archeological sites in both Syria and Iraq in order to exploit them as an important funding source. It has therefore formed secret exploration groups and purchased new tools to detect metal and to carry out excavations. It has used the expertise of antiquities dealers and organised crime groups from around the world and has looted the contents of mosques and churches in areas under its control, and now, after gaining more strength, it controls entire archaeological cities.
In Iraq, the group entered and destroyed the ancient city of Nimrud, which was carved in the rocks and dates back to the ninth century BC. Daesh tells its followers and supporters that it is executing God’s will by destroying “prohibited” statues, but in fact it only destroys relics that cannot be sold or moved. The rest of the antiquities, such as gold or stone statues that can be carried, are being stolen and secretly sold.
In Syria, Daesh entered the archaeological city of Tadmor (Palmyra), destroying its temples and kidnapping Khaled Al-Asaad, one of the world’s most prominent archaeologists, and imprisoned him for nearly a month for interrogations as they suspected that he had hidden some statues and relics before the group’s arrival. They then decapitated him and mounted his head on one of the archaeological columns which he had restored.
According to reports, the looted antiquities of Iraq and Syria were smuggled abroad to provide funding for terrorist operations. Some antiquities, other than those destroyed by Daesh, were looted and appeared on eBay, the world’s number one auction website. Metal antiquities, porcelain, coins and jewelry that had been looted in Iraq and Syria were smuggled by gangs, which provided large funds to the organisation. Israeli newspapers said that a number of ancient biblical scrolls were restored in Syria through antiquities dealers and thieves. The newspapers described the theft as a large gain and an important mission. They also published claims that the main border crossings used for the smuggling of weapons and militants are the same ones used for smuggling antiquities, and that Turkey is a booming market for selling and marketing such artifacts.
Daesh and the trade in human organs
The organisation surprised the world with its trade in human organs which provides it with millions of dollars. It sought to attract foreign doctors for several months in order to steal human organs which are taken from living hostages and killed militants. The Daily Mail newspaper quoted an Iraqi doctor named Sirwan Musli as saying that the organisation hired doctors of foreign nationalities to operate an expanded system for human organ trade in one of the hospitals under its control in Mosul, northern Iraq, which initially led to huge profits.
Musli recently noticed a strange development at the hospital, where a number of foreign surgeons were appointed and prevented from mingling with local physicians who carry out surgeries to remove organs inside the hospital.
The organisation established a special system to smuggle organs, which mainly come from militants who fell in battles and were moved to hospital as well as kidnapped persons who were taken alive and forced to donate a kidney and blood from their bodies before being killed, when the rest of their organs are stolen. The organs are then transferred via special devices through specific organ trafficking networks whose mission is to sell them on the global black market. The organs reach, through Turkey, the international gangs specialised in this trade.
Israel’s Channel Two also reported that Daesh began to recruit a group of doctors in several countries, including Israel, with the aim of trading in human organs and has been able to attract a group of Israeli doctors to extract organs to be sold on the black market.
Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations Mohamed Ali Al-Hakim presented evidence that Daesh depends on trafficking in human organs as a source of income in Iraq and killed doctors who refused to cooperate with him. The Iraqi government unearthed mass graves of bodies that had incisions in the back and had some of their organs missing, such as hearts, livers, and kidneys.
The majority of these operations are reportedly carried out at Mosul Hospital and Alkabbarh Clinic in southern Mosul, which are both under the group’s control.
Daesh and selling slaves
In areas under its control, the group either kills men or forces them to join its ranks. It also kidnaps women and children and places them in special areas or camps. The most attractive women and girls are picked out and gifted to the group’s leaders, while the rest are put up for sale as slaves after determining their prices according to their beauty or other specifications. The group sets a specific day of the week to sell slaves in areas under its control and displays them for clients inside cages or in special halls. Buyers examine the slaves and buy them at $150 each. If the buyer does not have any money he could buy the slave in exchange for his weapon. There are several markets for selling slaves, who are mostly Yazidis. The group sold the abducted children it did not recruit to work as house slaves.
The UN Security Council called on the players in Syria and Iraq to protect civilians from sexual violence and not use them as a weapon in the conflict, explaining that the slave market created by Daesh helps it in recruiting new fighters. The Council said that sexual violence in this context is a war crime and is a flagrant violation of the Geneva Convention.
Daesh and paying the jizya tax
The group imposes a jizya tax on Christians in areas under its control, as is the case in Al-Qaryetein City in Homs, Syria. Christians families are forced to pay the jizya for each member worth four gold dinars, which is equivalent to 17 grams of gold, or $325. The poor are forced to pay one gold dinar each year, which is equivalent to 4.25 grams of gold, or $160.
A payment of 10 per cent is required if the Christians bring in money for trade outside the borders of the Islamic State. Jizya is considered a major source of funding for the organisation, especially in large Christian areas.
Daesh’s issuance of a new currency
The organisation released a documentary in English to promote its new currency, which it plans to launch in the areas under its control in both Syria and Iraq. The film, produced in high definition by Al-Hayat Centre, is titled “The Rise of the Khilafah: Return of the Gold Dinar”.
The movie documents scenes of minting the new currency, which the group says will destroy the dollar and the economy of global “atheism” and that the United States established the corrupt capitalist system and infused it with a worthless currency and called it the dollar. The group says that dealing with gold and silver instead of banknotes is better because these metals are scarce and do not lose their value.
This currency is composed of seven categories of gold, silver, and copper, and set its exchange rate as follows:
Five gold dinars are equal to $694.
A gold dinar equals $139.
Five silver dirhams equal $4.3.
One silver dirham equals $0.90.
Twenty copper fils equal $0.13.
Ten copper fils equal $0.04.