How ISIS Makes Over $3 Million A Day Through Illicit Activites

Matthew He

According to U.S. intelligence, ISIS earns more than $3 million a day from illegal activities such as oil smuggling, human trafficking, theft, and extortion.

ISIS is a Sunni jihadist group in the Middle East that has proclaimed itself as a caliphate. ISIS claims religious authority over all Muslims all over the world and strives to bring most of the Muslim world under its political control. It has been prominent in the news for attempting these actions in Iraq and Syria.

ISIS has recently been in the news after it threatened the U.S. over Twitter. According to an earlier report from the Inquisitr News, ISIS sent threatening tweets about possible attacks on Chicago or Washington, D.C.

According to a U.S. intelligence official, the group's resources exceed that of "any other terrorist group in history." This is largely due to the 11 oil fields ISIS controls in Syria and Iraq regions that the group has taken over. The group is smuggling oil and other goods and making huge profits. "There's a lot of money to be made," said Denise Natali, who worked in Kurdistan as an American aid official and is now a senior research fellow at National Defense University. "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."

"The price the Islamic State group fetches for its smuggled oil is discounted -$25 to $60 for a barrel of oil that normally sells for more than $100 - but its total profits from oil are exceeding $3 million a day," said Luay al-Khatteeb, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution's Doha Center in Qatar. The Obama administration is cracking down on governments that are aiding ISIS in its illegal actions.

Besides oil, ISIS has earned side profits from human trafficking by selling women and children as sex slaves. ISIS even engages in kidnappings and extortion payments. Theft of towns and villages is another revenue source. "It's cash-raising activities resemble those of a mafia-like organization," a second U.S. intelligence official said, reflecting the assessment of his agency. "They are well-organized, systematic and enforced through intimidation and violence."

ISIS "has managed to successfully translate territorial control in northern Syria and portions of Iraq into a means of revenue generation," said a third U.S. intelligence official.