Radical Islamist Iraqi Group ISIS Seizes Millions in Cash Grab

Thursday, 12 Jun 2014 07:17 PM

By Cathy Burke

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The radical Islamist group known as ISIS —  the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria —  has looted nearly a half-billion dollars from banks in Mosul, Iraq, a cash grab that now makes it the richest terror group in the world, reports said.

The International Business Times reported the $429 million steal —  including a suspected large cache of gold bullion —  was confirmed by the regional governor, Atheel al-Nujaifi, and followed the siege of the country's second largest city.

The looted funds make ISIS richer than al-Qaida and as rich as the small nations of Tonga, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands and the Falkland Islands, the IBTimes reported.

Al-Qaida had an operating budget of around $30 million at the time of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Council of Foreign Relations has reported.

According to the IBTimes, the Taliban has an estimated operating budget of $70 million to $400 million; Hezbollah, from $200 million to $500 million; FARC in Colombia, from $80 million to $350 million, Hamas, $70 million, and Al-Shabaab in Somalia, from $70 million to $100 million.

ISIS's money will "buy a whole lot of Jihad," regional analyst Brown Moses wrote on his Twitter feed. "For example, with $425 million, ISIS could pay 60,000 fighters around $600 a month for a year."

The IBTimes noted the cash infusion also will likely worsen the Iraqi government's struggle to defeat the insurgency intent on creating an Islamic state across the Syrian-Iraqi border.

The Islamist militants took control of Mosul on Monday, forcing up to 500,000 people to flee; Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki has called a national state of emergency. The Washington Post reported the chaos also includes unconfirmed reports of "mass beheadings."

"The scale of the attack on Mosul was particularly audacious," the Economist writes in its latest online edition.

"But it did not come out of the blue. In the past six months ISIS has captured and held Falluja, less than an hour’s drive west of Baghdad; taken over parts of Ramadi, capital of Anbar province; and has battled for Samarra, a city north of Baghdad that boasts one of Shia Islam’s holiest shrines. Virtually every day its fighters set off bombs in Baghdad, keeping people in a state of terror."

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