ISIS is the richest terrorist organization in the world, according to a new Washington Institute report. Researcher Michael Knights has been studying Iraq for more than a decade and estimated that ISIS is pulling in between $2 million to $4 million per day. It is too soon after the stepdown of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to know if the change of leadership will have any impact on the actions and the riches of ISIS.
The Iraq expert had this to say about the wealth of ISIS:
"ISIS has always been a very wealthy terrorist movement because it's been running very large scale. Mafiosi protection rackets all across Iraq for around five years now. Some of the reports of them robbing banks in Mosul have been disproved, for instance."ISIS's funding has been traced back to drug trafficking and wealthy donors in the "Gulf States allied with the United States." Knights also went on to say that Gulf donors are a relatively small portion of ISIS's funding machine. "It's also a part that the U.S. and its allies are quite good at dealing with by now -- what they call 'threat finance.'"
The more difficult flow of funds to track is reportedly what ISIS is able to raise "on the ground." A significant portion of money filtering into the hands of the terrorist group reportedly stems from oil operations. ISIS is believed to be successfully running a cross-border oil export endeavor. The terrorist group controls about 30,000 to 40,000 barrels of production per day, according to Knights.
"They will take Iraqi produced oil, take it to Syria, refine it and then export it via truck out of Turkey or even through Iran," he said.
Unrest in the Middle East has long been known to prompt a spike in prices at the pump. The Washington Institute researcher does not believe that the ISIS oil production control issue will end up causing American drivers to have lighter wallets. WTI is currently below $100 a barrel and Brent crude is just under $105 per barrel. At least at present, ISIS is not in control of the southern Iraqi oil; the fields are in areas considered exclusively Shiite with a zero percent Sunni population.
ISIS currently controls a section of Iraq that is approximately the same size as Belgium. The terrorist group's recent advances have been in the Kurdish region, which is also an oil rich base for multiple international oil companies, Chevron and Exxon in particular.
[Image Via: NBC News]