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25.05.2017 - 16: 09

Racket and Jihad: what does the "Islamic state" earn?

The activity of any terrorist organization in the representation of most people is reduced to the planning, preparation and implementation of terrorist acts. In fact, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

All known terrorist organizations pay great attention to the economic support of those groups of the population on which they rely and which they claim to protect. Therefore, stable terrorist groups can not be considered only from a military or police point of view. We need to pay attention to other aspects of their activities - economic, educational, cultural, etc. Pyotr Dergachev tells where the most famous terrorist group "Islamic State" takes money from, and what it spends on.

Oil revenues

A resident of Damascus on the territory of the IG pours oil into the distillation cube to receive fuel

It is widely believed that IG receives the greatest profit by selling oil to resellers. But this point is not the main thing in the organization's income structure. In the best of times, oil speculators who conducted business with the group could receive from 200% to 500% of profits. However, since then, the market price of oil has fallen, and the cost of production has increased. And because of the air strikes of the coalition and the Russian Air Force, the smugglers' tankers have increased risks and transportation costs. The volumes of illegal oil supplies were already small, and now they have almost completely disappeared. It should also be noted that oil products purchased from the IG were not supplied to some large buyers and manufactures, but were resold to private (often illegal) gas stations in Turkey, Iraqi Kurdistan or Jordan. So all the statements that the "Islamic state" receives $ 3 million from oil, $ 1 million or even several hundred thousand dollars a day, are greatly exaggerated.

According to internal reports of the grouping, in the richest oil region of Syria - Deir ez Zore - in January 2015, terrorists earned oil production of only $ 60- $ 70 thousand per day. Wherever the group benefits from the independent use of petroleum products and from their sale to the local population. The latter, by the way, acquires oil for further distillation at micro refineries.

Due to the deterioration of the ecological situation in the Al-Baba district in 2015, the IG ordered to take out private micro-refineries away from the city

By the way, civilians often suffer from bombing of oil facilities. When the impacts are applied to the drilling, this damage is indirect. When the micro-refinery is bombed, the damage is direct, because it is not always the object of the bombing that belongs to the IG. And the bombing of auto-convoys with oil, too, does not cause direct damage to the grouping - instead of it, smugglers become victims.

Banking system

Bills counter in one of the banks IG

After the capture of Mosul by the "Islamic state", the world's media reported that the organization had access to $ 400 millions held by local banks. But, first, all these millions were mostly in Iraqi dinars, not dollars, which imposed certain restrictions on the turnover of these funds. Secondly, banking is much more complicated than simply keeping money. The guarantee fund is never equal to 100%. This means that the amount of cash in the bank is always less than the total amount of deposits. In other words, if all investors come to take their money, which is logical, when the whole city passes into the hands of terrorists, the bank will not have enough money to pay even with a half. Take cash from other offices is impossible. Make a non-cash transfer to another bank and send the depositor there also is impossible - the government of Iraq quickly cut off the Moslem and other banks that fell into the hands of the IG from the general banking system. There was a paradoxical situation when the "Islamic state" became not so much an owner of huge sums of money, but a debtor of local residents.

Turn in the bank of northern Iraq

To start, the group took a time-out and closed all the banks for three months. The funds of those who were recorded as enemies of the group were confiscated. To avoid massive recall of deposits from Mosul banks, IG economists introduced a complicated procedure for obtaining permission to withdraw money from the account and limited the maximum amount of withdrawals - 10% of the contribution, but no more than 10 millions of Iraqi dinars (at that time about $ 6,5 thousand). .

Realizing that it's impossible to take money in a safe deposit box, the IG introduced a five-percent commission for transfers and withdrawals. So it gets its share from the banking sector. It should be noted that the group expropriated only state banks that were in its power. Private banks are taxed, but formally they are not owned by the organization.

Trade in archaeological valuables

The fortress of Rusaf in Rakka is a historical monument of the Islamic period

Another supposedly large source of income of the organization is considered to be archaeological values. The black market of archaeological values ​​in Syria was formed long before the advent of the IG. Local residents actively sell ancient artifacts to feed themselves. The group joined this process and tried to arrange it at least on its territory. The IG has a special body, which manages various monuments and sights. The Committee on Sights is obliged to support the monuments of the Islamic period (various fortresses and mosques) and destroy all the others that contradict the Sharia. In addition, the committee is engaged in licensing the work of the so-called. "Black diggers." A person wishing to excavate at an archaeological site should apply to the said committee in order to obtain permission and a site for searches. In addition, he must show the found. After that, he is billed an amount of 20% of the estimated value of the find - the so-called. Hummus. If a "black digger" gets something that is subject to destruction according to the Sharia (for example, statues, bas-reliefs, mosaics, etc., containing images of people or animals), then these items are removed by the committee. Therefore, some bury back such artifacts in the hope of later getting into the object and taking out the find.

The receipt of the chief of the department of antiquities in the management of natural resources about the receipt of Khumes in the amount of 2,96 million Syrian pounds from one of the "black diggers"

According to experts, the "black market" of historical values ​​from Iraq and Syria reaches $ 50 million per year. The group's income from this activity is $ 1-2 million per year. Typically, the sale of artifacts are handled by the "diggers" themselves, and the IG is limited to levying taxes.

The sale of hostages

A fragment of the announcement about the sale of the Norwegian hostage, posted in the journal of the Islamic State, "Dabik"

Because of the group's propaganda, it is considered that the "Islamic state" does not sell hostages, but demonstrates their executions. In fact, this is not always the case. Prisoners are constantly being the subject of bargaining between all parties to the conflict in Syria and Iraq. As in the case of historical values, it is a common market, where the IG is only one of the participants. However, not always it is a question of sale for money. Sometimes they want to exchange prisoners, sometimes they make some political demands, and sometimes they set a specific price. It depends on the citizenship and status of the redeemable. If, for example, the captured Yezidi could be released for $ 3000 (the amount depends heavily on sex, age, and the welfare of the kidnapped family), then Western Europeans are required hundreds of times more. Because of the high price of the latter in the region, there is a network of informants ready for a couple of thousand dollars to entice a trusting foreigner into a death trap.

In the IG even there is a special department, which constantly monitors the movements of foreigners and, if necessary, abducts them. Similar work is carried out by all groups wishing to obtain a hostage, for which it is possible to demand a large ransom. According to unofficial data, organizations from France, Italy, Spain and Germany successfully bought their citizens from the IG. On this grouping earns from $ 10 to $ 40 million per year.

Check "Ministry of Finance IG"

Donations from abroad

It is believed that in the budget of the IG a large role is given to foreign donations. Often you can hear that the "Islamic state" - the project of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United States, and anyone, including. And Russia. And if so, then, from these countries, the financing of the group must flow abundantly. In fact, neither earlier, nor now foreign sponsors have not played and do not play a key role in the economy of the organization. For 2005 year, then "Al Qaeda in Iraq" earned $ 4,5 million. Only 5% of this amount went to the treasury of the group as voluntary donations. The main revenue article was racketeering. In 2010, the IG branch in northern Ninewa collected about $ 30 thousand "donations and fines" for the month, which was 10% of its revenue. The group wrote out the fines to the local residents, and the donations did not come from abroad, but were given by the same local population.

It's another matter, when supporters of the group announce the collection of money among those who are not indifferent. The organizer of such fees can not hide his goals and openly say to whom the money will go, or can declare that all donations will go to help refugees, restore infrastructure in a war-ravaged country, etc. In the latter case, it is not only the financing of terrorism, but also fraud. But the collected amounts extremely rarely exceed $ 10 thousand.

Salary of civil servants

Employee of the pumping station at the workplace in the province of Aleppo

But the really serious incomes of tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars are received by the "Islamic state" from ... the official governments of Iraq and Syria.

The fact is that in the territories occupied by the group there remained a noticeable number of state employees. They work at various enterprises - power stations, pumping stations, universities, hospitals, where skilled labor is needed. Labor, the absence of which in its consequences is worse than the activities of the IG. So, they should receive a salary from the government, tk. Formally their employers are the official authorities of the country, and not terrorists. Indeed, such payments are made. Salaries and pensions are sent to government-controlled cities that are not far from the place of residence of the recipient. For example, payments for working in Rakka went to Aleppo, and for workers of Mosul - to Kirkuk. Residents of these cities are forced to regularly travel to these locations to receive salaries. Then the workers return back, and the IG takes from them in the form of tax up to half the amount. However, Baghdad in the middle of the year 2015 stopped paying wages to the residents of the occupied territories. It hit hard on the group's budget in Iraq, but it hit the local population even more painfully.


Directly IG does not receive cash from the sale of agricultural products. It exposes producers to a natural tax of 5-10%. In addition, the group confiscated granaries in the territories it controlled. Having significant cereal reserves and controlling grain storage, the organization has a great influence on the food market, can even set prices for basic products. For example, in 2014, immediately after the capture of Mosul and the surrounding territories, flour prices were halved from 10 to 5 thousand Iraqi dinars per kilogram. Of course, this did not last long and prices returned to their previous level immediately after the stocks of confiscated grain were exhausted.

More than a quarter of the inhabitants of the countryside of Iraq and before the arrival of the IG depended on state subsidies for food. Instead of payments, or in parallel with them, the group began distributing bread, flour, livestock, meat and other agricultural goods. All this is done under the guise of paying a Muslim tax - zakat.

Harvesting. Province of Kirkuk

In 2015, about 2,4 million tons of wheat and barley were harvested on the territory controlled by the IG, which brought the grouping in the form of a natural tax of approximately $ 56 million. The population of these territories consumed less than 1 million tons. The rest was either reserved or sold: the agrarians found a way to sell grain to the Iraqi government through intermediaries. In any case, as shown by the analysis of satellite imagery, the IG coped well with the difficulties that arose. Even the water problems created by the Turkish authorities in 2014 did not prevent a better harvest than in the territories of official governments and other groups.

If necessary, the IG sells agricultural products. In Deir ez Zor, the proceeds from the sale of agricultural products (not only cereals, but also livestock) amounted to 10% of the total budget.

Confiscation of property

A car extracted from the Iraqi MP's hiding place

The greatest profit to the group brings confiscation. They take property of representatives of other religions who have left their place of residence, or atheists. For example, in the 2014 year after the capture of Mosul, one of the Christians who fled from the IG engaged in agriculture took a call from militants who offered to return to him, accept Islam or pay a tax - a jizyu of $ 500 - and continue their business. After being refused, the terrorists notified him that in that case they would confiscate all his property, including land. Similar proposals were received by thousands of Christian families who were forced to leave their homes. Confiscated everything - motor vehicles, real estate, livestock, cash, as well as prohibited by Shari'ah items like cigarettes, alcohol, drugs that are subject to destruction. This income item can sometimes amount to millions of dollars per month and reach half of the group's total revenue. However, this is a non-permanent source of income. Therefore, the financial statements of the grouping looks strange. For example, the amount of $ 300 thousand received in a week as a result of seizures, can coexist with the amount of $ 150 (not thousands).

The money received by the group from tax collections

Zakat and other taxes

In the IG, entrepreneurs must pay taxes in favor of the state. Taxes are different, for example, there is a transport tax (from $ 200 to $ 800). But the main tax is masked by the said Islamic zakat. Traditionally, zakat is 2,5% of the profit. So, Mosul's entire business brought the grouping about $ 3 million a month. For comparison, seven years earlier, extortion from Mosul entrepreneurs gave the group income of only $ 5 million a year. In general, this tax became a legalized racket. The group has been engaged in frank extortion for a long time, receiving from each major project realized in the territory under its control, from 5 to 10 percent of its total cost. In 2008, the IG in Ninewa only increased the cashier by almost $ 5 million for the second half of the year. 40% of them were obtained through extortion of zakat from local businesses. And even then the organization faced a number of financial problems. Economists of the group complained that it depends heavily on one or two sources of financing, economic management and discipline is lame. Militants asked to allocate funds for the purchase of soda and in general the leaders of the detachments spend more time begging for money than fighting. At the same time it turned out that more administrative expenses were spent on the maintenance of the administrative apparatus than on military operations. Later many of these problems were solved, but new ones appeared.

Salaries of militants

Packs of dollar bills that were at the disposal of the IG

Even foreign fighters bring money. They not only do not send money to relatives, but on the contrary, they ask that they themselves send financial assistance. The fact is that the "salaries" of the IG militants are constantly falling. Interestingly, at the end of 2015, they were reduced with a stunning formulation: "In the Qur'an 10 times Jihad is mentioned with property along with Jihad of the soul. And in 9 cases, the Jihad of property faces Jihad of souls therefore, and due to extraordinary circumstances, all mujahids without exception are reduced by two times money payments. " If several years ago, with a lucky coincidence, the gunman could count on $ 1000 per month, then this amount decreased to $ 500-600, and recently fell to $ 250. And this is not the minimum ($ 50) or even the average "salary" of the terrorist, but very good by the standards of the IG. Therefore, remittances from relatives and friends play an important role in the life of the militant.

With natives of Russia and the CIS in the ranks of the IG, Russia's economic problems played a cruel joke. The fact is that when the ruble rate fell, the cash flow was halved due to the fact that transfers are made in foreign currency. In this regard, and the situation of foreign militants has deteriorated noticeably. The organization itself does not receive this money directly, and the total amounts in comparison with other IG revenues are insignificant. But all the same, the grouping has its benefits from this practice. It shifts part of the financial burden to the content of its own military detachments to their members and their families.

Payroll and pensions in Fallujah

Budget Expenditure

Salary costs are the largest expenditure item of the IG. According to the most conservative estimates, it takes up about one hundred million dollars a year. Salary payments are about 40% of all spending groups (it is noteworthy that this indicator is stable for many years). Together with the content of military bases and training camps, as well as ensuring internal security, the share of expenditures reaches 70%.

Another 25% are spent on public needs, including medicine and education, construction of infrastructure facilities and so on. The propaganda is spent no more than 3% of the budget. In Deir ez Zor, for example, media services IG received about $ 150 thousand. The remaining 5% are spent on the payment of assistance to the poor, pensions to the families of the murdered and imprisoned militants.

Punishment of the person who appropriated the zakatnye means, Rakka

These 5% - expenses for the payment of zakat. The very one that millions are going to. Zakat is a tax that is subject to redistribution, and it can not remain with the collector. The amounts collected under the guise of zakat can compete with revenues from oil and agriculture. So, for example, in one month at the beginning of 2015 year in Deir-ez-Zor was collected zakyata property (i.e. Money) for an amount of $ 1,2 million. The zakat is redistributed all year round, but its peak falls on the month of Ramadan. So, in June 2016 year in the province of Rakka was distributed $ 830 thousand. In August of the same year, $ 450 thousand were redistributed in the province of Aleppo. It can be seen that the amounts collected are not exactly the same as those distributed. Obviously, the "Islamic state" appropriates a portion of the tax to itself. Is this justified from the point of view of Islam? Yes. IG would not have collected zakat at all if it could not have taken away its part. In addition, the tax is also levied on the maintenance of militants. It would seem that there are no contradictions. But at the same time it is necessary to distinguish the targeted donations that are held under the same name article, and zakat. The paying zakat is obliged to pay it, but is not obliged to give it for military needs. However, due to the fact that the group usurped the right to collect and distribute the Muslim tax, there is no way to refuse financing the organization.

IG and international isolation

Syrian pounds in the hands of IG in Rakka

It would seem that because of sanctions, the economy of the IG should be isolated from the international one. However, it is not. Firstly, not all banks captured by the group can be disconnected from the financial system of the country. Here the Syrian authorities have the greatest problems. Secondly, the settlement system of "hawala" is widespread in the Middle East. It is based on a system of mutual settlements, in order to transfer money from one country to another, it is enough that the broker of this system has a partner in the country where the money must be transferred. Further, he receives money from the person who carries out the transfer, and informs the partner how much to pay to the recipient of the transfer. Hawala is not regulated and can often be considered as illegal banking. Due to the simplicity and closeness of translations from prying eyes, the system is popular not only among respectable citizens, but also among criminal elements and terrorists. Through it, money is easily transferred to the IG, exported abroad for organizing terrorist attacks in third countries or for the purchase of necessary items and equipment for the needs of the group (drones, weapons, medical supplies, etc.). Despite all possible prohibitions, the IG is not in full economic isolation. Although it does not help much.

Currency in the territory of the IG

Posters with information about your own currency IG

On the territory of the grouping there are free circulation of 4 currencies at once - the national monetary units of Syria and Iraq are pound and dinar respectively, the US dollar and its own currency is the gold dinar. The gold dinar is a coin of great dignity. One dinar weighs 4,25 gram, is made of gold 875 samples. Simple calculations give us the price of gold in a coin equal to about 4500 rubles. There are also smaller coins - silver dirham and a changeable copper fulus. The group itself explains the appearance of its own coin for religious and historical reasons. This was the monetary system of the times of the Prophet Muhammad. In addition, the militants believe that the universal equivalent in the form of a gold coin is more honest and better than a sign form of money - banknotes. It is worth saying that the organization has a long history of using gold in its finances. For example, in 2008, the branch of the group in the Iraqi province of Diyala contributed to the treasury 4 a kilogram of gold. But the basic means of payment was still the dollar and the Iraqi dinar.

Despite the loud announcement of the gold dinar in 2015 year, it is practically not used. The issue of the new currency was rather symbolic. Some evidence of his walking appeared only a year after the announcement of it and remain episodic (dinars try to pay the salaries to militants of the group). IG money can not compete with either the dollar or the national money of Syria or Iraq.


IG demonstrates a complete lack of economic policy. There are no development programs, there is no business support, there is nothing that could make the organization suspect in the desire to engage in production. At best, it forces people to grow bread. This limits his intervention in the real economy. In all other respects, the producer is left to himself. All that interests the group is getting money in the form of taxes. The economy and the "Islamic state" exist in parallel. And IG depends on the economy, and the economy from it - no. Inevitably, business will flee from IG territories, if it is not knocked out by military men of different countries. In addition, one-sided interest makes the grouping simply unnecessary in the eyes of the local population. This does not mean that the risk of insurrection is high, as some Western experts believe. But this deprives the inhabitants of the initiative. When a person knows that, at best, he will receive an invoice to pay for the exorbitant (and sooner or later, the appetites of the group will become so), then his hands will drop.

Member of the IG pasting ads on the ban on the use of large bills of Syrian pounds

IG can only fight. And it's not even that the group sees only an extensive way of development, the fact is that it simply has nothing to lose. IG is not tied to the territory and therefore easily refers to losses and acquisitions.

While the organization manages to make ends meet and even finish the day in the "green zone". But already now the group has overstepped the threshold of the crisis not only military, but also economic.


Author: Petr Dergachev

Tags: IG, Economics, Middle East, Oil, Archeology, Banks, Agriculture, Iraq, Syria, Taxes