As the United States begins airstrikes against Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists in Syria, the group's finances are under deeper scrutiny, with one estimate putting its fundraising at about $3 million daily, the Huffington Post reports.
Such money is gleaned from several likely sources, Huffington Post added, including gifts from private donors sending direct funds, looting of opponents, as well as smuggling stolen antiquities and charging taxes from large and small businesses in areas the terrorist group now controls.
The biggest money, however, is likely from oil, pumped directly from areas the group has rampaged and now controls.
The United States has ramped up efforts to encourage Turkey, where the refined oil is often sold on the black market, in helping to cut Islamic State resources off, according to The New York Times
That has been difficult as oil transport trucks have been tracked by intelligence moving shipments to and from Iraq and Syria. While no U.S. forces have attacked this caravan, it remains an option, the Times reported, noting the increasingly strained relationship with Washington and Turkey's leader as military efforts to stop the spread of the Islamic State are increasing.
The U.S. Treasury has also joined the fight to stymie money flowing to the group, The Hill reported
, knowing the value in stopping recruitment and growth by cutting off the Islamic State's purse strings.
"We at the Treasury Department are hard at work to undermine ISIL's financial foundation as part of the broader strategy to degrade, dismantle, and ultimately defeat this terrorist organization … " David Cohen, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, posted on his department's website in advance of the president's speech announcing his intent to fight back against the group's advances, The Hill reported.
Wealthy Arab supporters in the region who have eagerly invested in the Islamic State fight also make the task difficult, NBC News reported
, noting huge funding coming from Qatar.
"These rich Arabs are like what 'angel investors' are to tech start-ups, except they are interested in starting up groups who want to stir up hatred," James Stavridis, who serves as dean of Tufts University's Fletcher School of Diplomacy, told NBC.
"Groups like al-Nusrah and ISIS are better investments for them," Stavridis added. "The individuals act as high-rollers early, providing seed money. Once the groups are on their feet, they are perfectly capable of raising funds through other means, like kidnapping, oil smuggling, selling women into slavery ..."
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