There are many differences between ISIS and its predecessor al-Qaeda, but this one is the most startling. While Osama bin Laden’s terror organization relied on the funding of a relatively small group of wealthy donors in the Arabian Gulf, the Islamic State went a different route. It operates out in the open, rather than carefully hidden within friendly or complacent states.
By establishing state-like structures, the terror network has managed to operate completely independent from outside funding.
This enables ISIS to pay its fighters and provide services to the population of occupied territories. In short, The terror group calling itself a state is starting to actually resemble one.
In a new report, CNN Money has compiled a detailed list of revenue sources of the Islamic State:
1. Main income still is the oil flow: $500 million/year
Oil is potentially the Islamic State’s most lucrative source of revenue. But fortunately ISIS can’t exploit this cash cow to its fullest extent. Lack of expertise and technology means production is running at about 50% of potential. Because sanctions, ISIS has to sell its oil on the black market. And there is another downside for the Islamists: Most of the oil sold goes directly the enemies of ISIS, thereby fueling their war effort against them.
2. Stable cash taxes from four million people: $360 million-plus/year
Wherever it establishes its terror rule, ISIS levies taxes on the population of now more than four million. These range from income, and business taxes to fees for bank withdrawals.
4. Sales of antiquities – around $ 50 million – 100 million/year
ISIS sells statues, stone faces and frescoes from Syria, that dealers demand, transported via Turkey to London and other markets. They take the money, hand over the relics and blows up the temples to conceal the evidence of what has been looted.
3. Kidnapping, ransoms and Yazidi and Christian slave sales : $20 million- $45 million/year
Kidnaping is a recourse intensive business and not as lucrative as the other income sources. Most of the victims are not foreigners but Christian, Yazidi, or Shia locals with only limited financial resources. Still ISIS continues to terrorize minorities and keeps up its kidnapping campaign, both as an extra source of income, and as a means to terrorize its enemies.
The annual income of ISIS is around one billion dollars.
Plus they still have cash from the biggest bank robberies ever:
4. Bank robberies until today: $500 million – $1 billion- but only once
Wherever ISIS goes it plunders the state’s national bank branches. It leaves untouched private banks so as to not rile up the local population. This is a huge source of income and it quickly made ISIS the richest terror organization in the world. It is however, a one time thing and won’t help sustain the Islamic State in the long run.