Trucks delivering the energy drink Red Bull into Syria appear to be funding the global terror organization ISIS, which controls majority of the entry points within the war-torn country.
The ISIS may be a growing global terror threat, but just like any organization, it too needs funds and dedicated individuals. While it certainly doesn’t have a dearth of hardcore fundamentalists, it seems to have discovered multiple revenue sources that is keeping it well funded. One of the simplest techniques to keeping the coffers filled is to extort money, and ISIS has discovered that disputed border check-points are the cash-cows.
ISIS commanders, who have placed large groups of their armies at majority of the border crossing points between Turkey and Syria have been extorting money from the truck-drivers who have been delivering supplies into the latter country. Despite being a NATO member, Turkey is shipping billions of dollars’ worth of goods into the war zone.
Turkey appears to be exploiting an international trade loophole to supply goods to Syria. Though Turkey imposed sanctions on Assad three years ago, the cross-border trade is very much legal and officially shows up in Turkish customs data, reported Bloomberg.
But with ISIS taking near complete control of Syria, State control by the Damascus government is now non-existent and transporters pay heavy tolls and ‘fees’ to whoever controls the crossing. Estimates indicate more than £163 million in goods have already made it to Syria via the Turkish border towns of Cilvegozu and Oncupinar. But, the data shows that though any country will require basic staples, Syria’s consumption of Red Bull surpasses all other goods.
Data indicates that, though cement, vegetable oil, Bulgar wheat, flour, salt and tinned fruit are regular goods, Red Bull imports are astonishingly high. In September alone, the Red Bull consignments made up, along with the other goods, trade with Syria worth an estimated £800 million.
Though these are mere trade statistics, industry insiders speculate that Red Bull isn’t just helping the ISIS militants financially, but offering them a ‘high’ too, reported UPI. Unsurprisingly, buyers of the energy drink prefer to remain anonymous, stated Mustafa Yilmaz, owner of Turkish trucking company Cem-Ay Transport,
“Every day we have four or five trucks carrying Red Bulls to Syria. Buyers on the Syrian side don’t identify themselves to the transporters but we know where this stuff is going.”
[Image Credit | Getty / Reuters]