Iraq News

ISIL finances dwindle as Mosul offensive heats up

By Khalid al-Taie

A soldier from the Iraqi Special Forces' 2nd Division operates a drone, while smoke billows from an 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant' position hit during fighting in Mosul's Karkukli neighbourhood on November 14th. [Odd Andersen/AFP]

A soldier from the Iraqi Special Forces' 2nd Division operates a drone, while smoke billows from an 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant' position hit during fighting in Mosul's Karkukli neighbourhood on November 14th. [Odd Andersen/AFP]

The revenue stream of the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL), which is heavily dependent on extortion and smuggling activities, is being choked off as Iraqi forces tighten the noose on the group, Iraqi officials tell Diyaruna.

The group's financial capabilities, already diminished by Iraqi and coalition airstrikes , are in "clear decline" as Iraqi forces move in on Mosul, they said.

As ISIL faces defeat in its last major Iraqi stronghold, its fighters have a diminished ability to extort money from the local population, they said, adding that there also has been a noted increase in the theft and embezzlement of the group's funds by ISIL leaders, who smuggle the money to unknown destinations.

ISIL has been jolted by "losing its ability to escape Mosul with the money it possesses", said Ninawa provincial council member Abdul Rahman al-Wakaa.

"The military victories have come as a complete surprise to the group," he told Diyaruna. "The security forces' advance and the tight blockade on the city have befuddled the terrorists, who thought they had more than enough time to escape with the money they had collected."

" ISIL is facing great difficulties in trying to smuggle [out] its remaining funds, since our forces have shut down all escape routes ," he said, expressing his confidence that Iraqi forces will be able to recover the money and defeat ISIL.

Funding sources dry up

"After ISIL overran Mosul two years ago, its elements stole money from state banks and collected millions of dollars from the sale and smuggling of crude oil and archaeological artefacts and from looting state property," al-Wakaa said.

These funding sources have recently unraveled , however, as a result of intensive Iraqi and coalition airstrikes, which targeted many of the group's money caches and smuggling routes, he added.

"They only have taxes left at this point, which are gradually diminishing since they are losing their control over more and more areas and are unable to intimidate people into paying as much as they did before," al-Wakaa said.

"We also have heard that ISIL has recently started to sell the cars and homes it has seized for extremely low prices in order to cover its fighters' salaries, but it cannot find any buyers," he said.

"Our information also indicates a growing number of cases of theft and embezzlement of ISIL money by group leaders," he said.

Some have been removed from their posts and penalised, while others have escaped with the money to unknown locations, al-Wakaa said.

ISIL faces financial crisis

ISIL has engaged in wide-scale smuggling of money from Iraq to Syria since the first months of its occupation of Mosul, said Ghiyath Surji, media director of the Mosul branch of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, an Iraqi-Kurdish political party.

"The looting, smuggling and selling of petrol and antiquities used to generate enormous revenues for the terrorists, helping them to build a huge financial strength," he told Diyaruna.

But this now "has been completely degraded, and ISIL is currently incapable of smuggling money", he said. "It has lost the freedom of movement, and the security forces are taking apart its areas of control in Mosul."

" Furthermore, ISIL for long months has been suffering from a severe financial crisis due to its dwindling resources ," he added.

"It used to collect money from taxes it imposed on shop owners, street vendors, farmers, livestock growers and buying and selling activity, and from financial penalties imposed on those who violated its instructions," he said.

ISIL used to earn at least $5 million a month from these levies, al-Surji said.

Desperate search for money

As the group's finances fall, al-Surji said, its fighters have resorted to stripping state property of anything of value, including wires, power generators and equipment, "and selling them on the black market".

Mosul's liberation will reveal many of ISIL's secrets, perhaps even its money smuggling activity and its sale of national resources to organised crime gangs, said Duraid Hikmat, an adviser to the governor of Ninawa.

"The group is taking its last gasps," he told Diyaruna. "The liberation process, which is nearing its decisive moment, will eliminate all of its resources, all state property and money will return to the state, and citizens' property will be restored to its original owners."

After this has been done, he said, "we will start a new chapter of reconstruction in our beloved city of Mosul".

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The "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)" is 100% Wahhabi made. It was benefiting from its takfirist elements in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. However, it has been besieged now, and what it is doing is just like the endeavour of a slaughtered animal. May Allah damn the devils of Najd of whom our Prophet (PBUH) said that the Arabian Peninsula would be shaken because of their fitna. The best end is for the righteous.