An airstrike by U.S.-led coalition destroyed a bank that was being used by ISIS in the Iraqi city of Mosul. The bank was being used to store “jihadi” cash running into millions. Such airstrikes are being conducted to disrupt the terror group’s financial sources.
A video surfaced on Monday purporting to show the destruction from an airstrike on a bank in ISIS’ northern Iraqi stronghold Mosul. Incidentally, the video was uploaded by Islamic State, but it was a U.S. defense official who corroborated the reports, speaking on condition of anonymity, reported Yahoo News.
“Two 2,000-pound (900-kilogram) bombs struck the facility, destroying “millions” of dollars’ worth of cash. We estimate in the millions of dollars… from all their illicit stuff: oil, looting, extortion.”
While the video does not show the actual decimation of the bank, it does reportedly show the aftermath of a building that is clearly subjected to destruction by an explosive force. Although it is not clear, one can make out scattered remnants of paper currency amongst the rubble. There has been no confirmation about the authenticity of the footage, but it was uploaded by a news agency that supports the militant group.
Two Mosul residents confirmed the location of al-Zuhour bank in an eastern district of the city, reported Reuters. According to CNN, which first reported the airstrike, the U.S. military believes between five and seven people might have been killed, but there’s no confirmation if they were militants or civilians. There’s no official confirmation about the exact amount of money that was reportedly destroyed. The video does show paper and burnt furniture littered among the concrete and steel rubble of several buildings that could have been destroyed by the bombing. Debris is also seen hanging from dust-laden branches. Looking at the destruction, it is apparent that the airstrike may have affected nearby civilian areas as well.
Following the successful airstrike deep inside ISIS’ stronghold, the U.S.-led coalition is now planning more attacks on the terror group’s financial assets, cash stockpiles, and reserves. The coalition intends to cripple the Islamic State’s ability to function as a state and ensure its steady influx of cash is severely restricted. Mosul is one of the biggest and strategically critical targets because it is commonly considered the birthplace of ISIS, as this where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made one of his few public statements to declare its so-called caliphate.
The airstrike that destroyed the huge bank followed months of preparation and intelligence-gathering missions conducted by numerous high-altitude military aircraft and drones. After a tipoff about the suspected ISIS “cash collection and distribution point,” the site was closely monitored and the decision to bomb it was taken.
Even the timing to bomb the bank was carefully chosen. The airstrike was conducted at dawn on Sunday, as reports suggested ISIS operatives were working overnight. Additionally, a mission at this time would limit civilian casualties. Incidentally, U.S. commanders are said to have been willing to risk 50 civilian casualties due to the importance of the target, reported the Daily Mail.
ISIS has been known to operate many businesses to ensure its cash reserves remain healthy. After taking over Mosul, ISIS looted nearly half a billion dollars from banks in Mosul and the other northern cities of Tikrit and Baiji, claimed Iraq’s finance minister. Incidentally, ISIS released an hour-long propaganda video that showed off its currency in the form of small gold coins.
The terror group finances its operations through oil smuggling, racketeering, kidnapping, and taxing the millions of people living in areas it controls in Syria and Iraq, reports YNet News. According to recent revealtions, the group appears quite open to the idea of human organ harvesting as well as trading women as sex slaves to build up its cash stockpile.
[Photo by Safi Hamed/Getty Images]