- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Islamic State terrorist group is raking in up to $50 million a month from the sales of crude from oilfields under its control in Iraq and Syria, according to Iraqi intelligence and U.S. officials. 

The militant group’s oil boom, highlighted by the Associated Press on Friday, demonstrates a well-run terrorist industry that U.S. diplomacy and airstrikes have so far failed to shut down. 

The oil sales are the extremists’ largest single source of continual income and are a key reason the group has been able to maintain their control over their self-declared “caliphate” over Iraq and Syria. 

Islamic State militants sell crude to smugglers at prices that vary between $10 and $35 per barrel, Iraqi intelligence officials told the Associated Press. The international price of oil is about $50 per barrel.

The smugglers then sell the oil to middlemen in Turkey, or, according to one Iraqi official, to individuals in Kurdish areas of Iraq, as well. A Kurdish politician denied the claim.

The extremists were believed to have extracted about 30,000 barrels a day in Syria, and about 10,000 to 20,000 barrels per day in Iraq, according to AP.

Turkey’s prime minister’s office issued a statement to the Associated Press saying that it had taken measures to strengthen border security and has prevented oil smuggling across its border. As of the end of September, its security forces had stopped 3,319 cases of smuggling from Syria, the statement said.

The U.S.-led airstrike campaign has sought to target the group’s main funding sources in recent months. On Thursday the international coalition carried out a large-scale attack on Syria’s Omar oil field, a major source of revenue for the group. 

The terrorist group also collects taxes in the areas it controls, which are believed to bring in a considerable profit. In addition, the group has made money on the sales of looted antiques and artifacts from Iraq and Syrian cities. 

• Kellan Howell can be reached at khowell@washingtontimes.com.

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