ISIS Facing Recession: Halves Salaries Of Its Fighters Citing Financial Pressures

A leaked document accessed by Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, a leading scholar and a fellow at the Middle East Forum, has revealed that ISIS has decided to cut the salaries of their fighters by half.

The ISIS government said in a new document released by its Treasury Ministry, the “Bayt Mal al-Muslimeen,” in Raqqa.

“On account of the exceptional circumstances the Islamic State is facing, it has been decided to reduce the salaries that are paid to all mujahideen by half, and it is not allowed for anyone to be exempted from this decision, whatever his position. Let it be known that work will continue to distribute provisions twice every month as usual.”

Though not mentioned explicitly, the “exceptional circumstances” could be linked to the massive airstrikes launched by the international coalition against ISIS positions in Raqqa in December, and the Iraqi campaign to liberate the city of Ramadi from ISIS’ hold.

The US-led coalition has been bombing the terrorist group’s oil fields, supply lines, and cash stores since October as part of Operation Tidal Wave II.

A “cash distribution centre” reportedly used to pay fighters was hit by US planes on 11 January near its Iraqi stronghold of Mosul, with footage showing clouds of money blown into the air.

The Independent reported that General Lloyd Austin, head of the US Central Command, admitted that it deprived ISIS of “millions of dollars.” He said as follows.

“Combined with all of the other strikes that we’ve done on Isil’s gas and oil production and distribution capabilities and strikes against his economic infrastructure and the various sources of revenue, you can bet that Isis is feeling the strain on his checkbook.”

“Isil needs those funds to pay their fighters, to recruit new fighters and to conduct their various maligned activities.”

The CNN Money reorted that ISIS soldiers earn between $400 and $1,200 a month, plus a $50 stipend for their wives and $25 for each child, according to the Congressional Research Service.

ISIS makes most of its money by taxing its population. A huge amount of the money comes from the 8 million civilians who live and work in territory taken over by ISIS soldiers. ISIS says all taxes are zakat, Islamic religious alms similar to a Christian tithe. There’s even a special tax on Christians, mafia-like “protection insurance,” called jizyah.

A major source of income for ISIS is oil. Oil needs to be pulled from the ground, then refined into higher quality petroleum products. The whole process is under attack by the U.S.-led bombings, which slowed down production. Bombers targeted the industrial refineries, forcing the ISIS militants to rely on “primitive refining techniques” to refine it, like burning crude oil in open pits.

This was followed by the American military disrupting the ISIS oil supply chain. American and coalition bombers targeted the long queues of huge trucks that lined up on the roads leading to ISIS-controlled oil fields. As a result, truckers were scared to line up to buy oil.

Consequently, ISIS is producing oil that’s less refined and at a slower pace. The oil yields a lower price on the black market, and takes longer to get to market, eventually stripping ISIS of the much needed cash.

There’s another force at work hurting ISIS’s oil revenue. Rock-bottom oil prices have also reduced what ISIS can fetch on the black market. The result? ISIS was making $40 million a month on oil alone in early 2015, according to the U.S. Treasury. Now, it’s making only a fraction of that, according to the State Department.

For what it’s worth, the US-led coalition forces seemed to have hit ISIS where it hurts the most.

[Photo by Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images]

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