During a Feb. 3 briefing, Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby
told reporters that "we know that oil revenue is no longer the lead source of [the Islamic State's] income in dollars."
While he could not confirm when illicit sales of oil ceased to be the No. 1 source of revenue, he said ISIS still has other financing pipelines, including donations and, he said "they also have a significant black market program going on. But what I can tell you is that we now know that oil is no longer the lead source of revenue."
According to Foreign Policy magazine,
before the onset of U.S. airstrikes last summer, ISIS was estimated to be producing more than 80,000 barrels a day and selling it on the black market for about $1 million to $3 million a day.
"ISIS is selling anything they can get their hands on," Dr. Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Fox News.
While ISIS is receiving donations from "charities" in the region, Gartenstein-Ross says most of the "charities [supporting radical Islam] in the Gulf are aligned with al-Qaida, not ISIS."
While the sources of its revenue remain murky, the group has not been shy about publicizing how much they have to spend.
One of ISIS' leaders told the London-based al-Araby al-Jadeed news outlet
that the terror group will have a $2 billion budget for 2015.
Sheikh Abu Saad al-Ansari, a senior religious figure in Mosul, Iraq told the outlet that the budget will cover monthly wages for the poor and disabled, and those left orphaned or widowed as a consequence of allied airstrikes.
Any remaining money would be directed to ISIS' war effort.
With the loss of revenue from oil sales, last week the United Nations Security Council voted
to approve measures targeting sources of funding for ISIS and the Al-Nusrah Front (ANF).
Using the authority of the UN Charter —
which authorizes the use of force, the Security Council acted to strengthen its efforts to cut off financing for ISIS and its affiliates, and to reaffirm existing obligations of Member States to "freeze without delay" funds of any individual or organization that is associated with ISIS.
The Council expressed concern that oil fields controlled by various terrorist groups "are generating a significant portion of the groups' income, alongside extortion, private foreign donations, kidnap ransoms and stolen money from the territory they control."
The challenge in combating ISIS is unlike other anti-terror efforts because it generates revenue from outside of the borders if Syria and Iraq, argued David Cohen, the undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence at the U.S. Department of the Treasury,
in a speech last year.
"Imposing targeted sanctions on [ISIS] officials and financiers to cut off external funding networks is an important element of our strategy to undermine [ISIS’] financial foundation. But we are mindful that [ISIS-], unlike many other terrorist groups, also relies on significant funding derived from sources internal to Syria and Iraq, including criminal conduct such as smuggling, extortion, and robbery. It also has received millions of dollars through the despicable practice of ransoming hostages it has taken," he asserted.
A Nov. 14, 2014 report issued by the United Nations' Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team, stated plainly the difficulty in turning off ISIS' funding spigot.
"Evidence-based analytics remain challenging given continuing information gaps,"
the group conceded, adding that "a significant unknown is how much money [ISIS] is expending on a daily basis," the group conceded.
While many Western governments argue that ISIS is "self-financing," others believe it is necessary to identify its external benefactors if any real progress is to be achieved.
"Western governments have detailed the production of oil wells in ISIS territory and the vast amounts of cash supposedly stolen from Mosul banks after ISIS took over, but smuggling fuel and ransacking vaults can hardly sustain an Islamist 'nation' which controls an area larger than the UK," says Robert Fisk of The Belfast Telegraph.
"Millions of dollars must be arriving in ISIS hands from outside Iraq and Syria, and the question must be asked: if it doesn’t come from within Saudi Arabia —
or Qatar —
who on earth is providing the wherewithal? Iceland? Peru?" he asks.
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