ISIS finances come from crime

A new report published in the New York Times, compiled by the RAND Corporation reveals that criminal activity is the main source of income for the terrorist group ISIS.  The RAND report dismantles the widely-accepted conviction that petroleum is the main source of revenue for the terrorist organization.

The report delineates ISIS’ estimated assets, calculated at $1 billion, and identifies extortion or taxation as the overriding wellspring of financing for their apparatus.  According to the evaluations in the New York Times, $600 million is gained through extortion; another $500 million is accumulated from the  theft of state-owned banks; petroleum accounts for $100 million; and $20 million is acquired from ransoms from kidnapping.

The outlook from RAND uncovers ISIS generates over $1 million per day in extortion and high tax rates, often 50%, imposed on Iraqi officials alone.  As their other sources of income, particularly petroleum, declined, ISIS revised its tax rates to contend with losses.  Among the troubling conclusions is the estimation ISIS is seeking to enrich themselves.  The study reveals the terrorist group’s greatest benefactor is ISIS members who earn of $3-to-$10 million a month.

ISIS is revealing itself to have much more in common with the likes of the Khmer Rouge, Shining Path, Red Brigade, Basque ETA, Boko Haram and (insert ruthless groups here), all of which, while posturing as freedom fighters, fleetingly exhibit a particular brand of pitilessness while attempting to establish rule or gaining authority over a population.

When temporarily retreating from the practice of killing, they turn to other “no-good” activities, such as extortion, robbery and pick-pocket taxation policies.  If nothing else, this report should sear any argument ISIS is a political entity with legitimate objectives.  ISIS is giving the world fair warning they have nothing new to offer.

Not bad for a “junior-varsity” group.

[][Photo courtesy NY Times via the AP]