The Islamic State group reportedly has a war chest of $2 billion, putting it in an economic realm previously unseen by a terrorist organization.
Cicero, a magazine founded by former Council on Foreign Relations senior web writer Lionel Beehner, reported Thursday that illicit oil sales — “worth between $1 million and $2 million a day” — had helped the group amass its sizable fortune.
The organization also generates money from kidnapping and extortion networks, robbery, front companies, racketeering and outside donations, the magazine reported.
The group’s primary funding source, however, is oil, for which it “receives cash in hand at the point of sale,” the magazine reported. Its members pump roughly 25,000 barrels of oil per day from stolen oil fields.
Although selling the oil on the black market forces Islamic State to sell at a steep discount ($25-$60 per barrel), it still makes an enormous profit, the magazine reported.
Though the U.S.-led coalition is intent on disrupting the Islamic State’s flow of oil sales, Cicero noted that doing so may be difficult; destroying oil refineries in Iraq and Syria gives the organization a public-relations win, and up until this point the Islamic State group does not use the kind of electronic international monetary transfers historically relied upon by al Qaeda.
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