The Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), makes more than $3 million a day from trafficking women and children for sex, smuggling oil, extortion and theft, according to U.S. intelligence officials and other experts.
The Sunni militants have resources that exceed “any other terrorist group in history,” an intelligence official said.
With large portions of Syria and Iraq under the group’s control, they have taken over as many as 11 oil fields. They have access to oil smuggling networks dating back generations, New York Daily News reported.
“There’s a lot of money to be made,” said Denise Natali, who worked as an American aid official in Kurdistan.
“The Kurds say they have made an attempt to close it down, but you pay off a border guard, you pay off somebody else and you get stuff through,” said Natali, who is now a senior research fellow at National Defense University.
The oil is sold at a discount, according to Luay al-Khatteeb, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Doha Center in Qatar. A barrel that would normally sell for more than $100, goes for $25 to $60.
ISIS also makes millions selling women and children into sexual slavery, al-Khatteeb said. Kidnapping ransoms, extortion payments and outright theft from cities in the Islamic State also add to its revenue.
“Its cash-raising activities resemble those of a Mafia-like organization,” another U.S. intelligence official said. “They are well-organized, systematic and (their actions are) enforced through intimidation and violence.”
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