How ISIS Dodges Western Attempts in Controlling its Financial Resources


How ISIS Dodges Western Attempts in Controlling its Financial Resources

Abdalaziz Alhamza – Exclusive – Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently


Since September 2014 the coalition alliance made more than 2000 raids on ISIS centers and headquarters in an attempt to hinder league’s growth and to control its financial resources. The international coalition imposed an economical stenosis on ISIS and blocked the borders by bombing commercial routes owned by the league, destroyed its giant crude oil and fuel transport trucks, where the oil was being sold in the black-market, and  cannonaded ISIS’s primitive oil refineries.  

The coalition tried to control ISIS, which is spiraling out of control day by day, with various means by controlling its funding resources and financial power that generates more than two million US dollars daily from the oil industry. Nonetheless, ISIS is still using a number of methods to pump money into its league by several means.

  • 1-One of ISIS’s most important financial resources is selling electricity and gas to Assad regime through ISIS controlled dams like Teshreen, Al Ba’eth and Euphrates dams, in addition to Tweenan gas field that is also under the league’s control. Secret deals are being wrapped up between ISIS and Assad regime, where the regime conducts reform workshops in regions in exchange with ISIS providing them with electricity. Profits are divided in half between them.
  • 2-One of the most ISIS financial resources is the taxes it imposes on Al-Raqqa citizens. Every house should pay 800 Syrian Liras for electricity bills and 400 Syrian Liras for phone bills. Each shop should pay 1500 Syrian Liras for electricity bills and hygiene services in addition to 400 Syrian Liras for the phone bills. These taxes generate a lot of cash flow to the league, where the Hisba apparatus collects the taxes every month from Al-Raqqa residents. (Al Hisba apparatus is a special ISIS agency concerned with collecting taxes from citizens.)
  • 3-Customs revenue is also an important financial resource for ISIS. After transforming the old music institute to the “Customs Building”, the league imposes taxes on any goods that is being exported or imported to Raqqa city, where it earns the greatest share from these goods.
  • 4-ISIS established a gigantic commercial route between Al Mousel city in Iraq and Al-Raqqa city in Syria. The league exports fruits, vegetables, cereals and grains, clothes and fabrics to Al Mousel in exchange to importing dates, vehicle spare parts, and some electric tools. This trade, which is one of the city’s economic resilience, proved high merits and empowered the league financially to the extent that some of the residents in Al Raqqa city started to engage in it.  
  • 5-Internet Cafes: After the absence of the internet on Al-Raqqa city for more than a year and a half, the city entirely depends on the expensive satellite internet. ISIS opened dozens of internet cafés, where the price of 25 megabytes are equal to 100 Syrian Liras that is expensive for Al-Raqqa citizens since Internet is not irreplaceable for both the citizens and ISIS members. This kind of trade is one of the most profitable trades for ISIS. There were less than 20 internet cafes in Raqqa city, now there are more than 500 cafes in a city. Nonetheless, ISIS distributes internet to the whole city so that Al-Raqqa is now called the satellite town in every sense of the word. There is internet even on the streets!
  • 6- Al Hisba apparatus: ISIS’s tax agency used to impose sanctions on smokers, law-breakers, later prayers, and even people who avoided closing their shops according to ISIS laws, by either torturing or lashing them. Now, you can avoid all this by paying a certain amount of money to the league.  ISIS members forced the residents to close their shops and go to pray; now instead they require people to pay 1000 Syrian Liras on (almost 5 US dollars). Instead of paying a tax on ration or traffic sanctions according to Sharia’ laws, it can now be substituted by paying money.  The Islamic Court in Al-Raqqa city, affiliated to ISIS, condemned “Mahmoud Al Safrani” to 100 lashes in front of the city’s citizens, in addition to fining him with 14 million Syrian Liras because he was cheating people in selling rice.
  • 7- ISIS confiscates people’s lands and sells it in public auctions, just like what happened with “Mahmoud Al Khalil Al Muhaimed” from Sluuk city in Al-Raqqa countryside. ISIS confiscated his lands, appointed a guard on it and sold it in a public auction since Mahmoud had relations with the Free Syrian Army.
  • 8- Selling fuel and crude oil and extracting it in primitive ways: Despite all the raids done by the coalition, ISIS is still capable of extracting crude and fuel oil in primitive ways and establishing a commercial route with Turkey to sell it in the black-market. After extracting the fuel and crude oil, ISIS fills the giant tank trucks and sells it in Turkey. This industry is what keeping ISIS’s economy strong.
  • 9- Selling cannabis, substance abuse, smuggling cigarettes and alcohol: There are a number of reports that state that ISIS plants a great amount of cannabis in agricultural fields in Al-Raqqa country sides to sell it later in the black-market in Turkey. Despite all the restrictions being done by ISIS, drugs and cannabis are abundantly found in the city, even though the drugs quantities were much less before ISIS. This league also takes a lot of money from alcohol dealers in exchange for overlooking it and approving alcohol’s entrance into the city, where alcohol is expensive but present.
  • 10- Excavating, smuggling remnants and selling it in the black-market in Turkey. ISIS found a huge range of artifacts in Al Raqqa’s eastern suburbs that are highly valuable. This is the not the first time that ISIS found a group of artifacts that contained a huge mosaic that dates back to the sixth centaury B.C
  • Despite more than 2000 raids on ISIS to destroy its economy, we can still say that the league is still strong-willed economically and wasn’t affected by the strikes and it still remains one of the richest terroristic organizations.
media activist from the city of Raqqa, student at the Faculty of Law at the University of the Euphrates. Director of the Media Office of Raqqa, founding member of "Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently", founding member of the documentary project of "Sound and Picture". I work in documenting violations committed by Assad's regime and ISIS group and extremist organizations inside the city of Raqqa, as I work in programming, design and visual media. I hold a certificate of coach in digital security, and a certificate of journalist coach, and a certificate in documenting violations against human rights, and a certificate in electronic advocacy. I underwent a training under the supervision of "Cyber-Arabs" in collaboration with the Institute for War and Peace "IWPR", about the management of electronic websites and leadership of advocacy campaigns, and a training of press photography under the supervision of the photojournalist "Peter Hove Olesen".