Islamic State Group Is Expanding With The Help Of Oil

| by Amanda Andrade-Rhoades
Oil Field.Oil Field.

Islamic State group has been showing up far beyond the borders of Syria and Iraq. From the bloodied streets of Paris to the five alleged Islamic State group affiliates discovered in Brooklyn, New York, earlier this year, it seems the terror group’s reach is virtually global and, some believe, spreading.

“'We're seeing a change in tactics out of [Islamic State group] in the Middle East that's epitomized by the attacks in Paris at the weekend,” Steve Killelea, executive chairman of the Institute for Economics and Peace, told the Daily Mail ahead of the institute releasing its Annual Terrorism Index.

The 2015 Terrorism Index found Islamic State group and Boko Haram, an Islamic extremist group based in Nigeria, are the most deadly terror groups in the world, although Boko Haram killed 6,644 people in 2014 as opposed to Islamic State group’s 6,073.

“They're developing tactics to extend. There's also a tendency by [Islamic State group] and Boko Haram to target more civilians and that's a shift away from military people and government targets. I think what they're finding is that it creates greater mayhem, they can get more casualties, and it's a softer target and we can certainly also see the effect it's had on Paris over the weekend in creating panic among the general population.”

Islamic State group funds much of its foreign and domestic operations using oil money. Every month, the organization rakes in up to $50 million from oil sales, according to Business Insider.

“I think what we're looking at is a well-funded terrorist organization — the funding gives it the ability to be able to pay for soldiers and fund terror acts beyond its borders,” Killelea said.

Christina Schori Liang from the Geneva Centre for Security Policy explained that oil is crucial for Islamic State group. “Oil wealth serves several purposes: It provides energy needs for the estimated 10 million civilians living in [Islamic State group] controlled territory and it helps fuel the war machine,” she told the Daily Mail.

“More importantly, oil is used as a leveraging device to control its enemies. Many opposition forces are dependent on [Islamic State group] for diesel.”

Islamic State group also taxes people living under its regime to maintain multiple sources of income. “In territories now under [Islamic State group] control, there is a 10 percent income tax, 10-15 percent tax on business revenues and a 2 percent value added tax on everyday purchases,” Liang said.

“There are road taxes and custom taxes for vehicles crossing [Islamic State group] held territory and taxes for smuggling drugs and weapons.”

So far, Islamic State group’s tactics seem to be working. Although "lone wolf" attacks make up 70 percent of attacks in the Western world, terrorist activity globally is up 80 percent from the previous year.

Sources:  Institute for Economics and Peace, Daily Mail, Business Insider / Photo credit: Paul Lowry/Flickr, Wikimedia Commons