ISIS is on the path to poverty, according to a new joint study, “Caliphate in Decline: An Estimate of Islamic State’s Financial Fortunes,” from the London-based International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Ernst & Young.
The terror group is apparently suffering from financial difficulties, to put it mildly. Facts and figures show that over the last two years, revenues for ISIS have fallen by more than 50 percent.
Still, study authors have concluded that it’s not yet time to breathe easy about the group’s dismantling.
“The decline in revenues may not have an immediate effect on the group’s ability to carry out terrorist attacks outside its territory,” the study said, Breitbart reported. “While hurting Islamic State finances puts pressure on the organization and its state-building project, wider efforts will continue to be necessary to ultimately defeat it.”
The authors also point to the fact ISIS is continually recruiting, and reaching out to other sources of potential income.
One looming possibility?
The country’s rich with opium, and ISIS could tap further into that drug trade, which includes the derivative heroin, to bolster its income. In fact, some estimates say ISIS can derive up to $50 billion annually from sales of Afghan-tied opium and heroin.
From the report, as cited by Breitbart:
“The group’s most significant sources of revenue are closely tied to its territory. They are: (1) taxes and fees; (2) oil; and (3) looting, confiscations, and fines. We have found no hard evidence that foreign donations continue to be significant. Similarly, revenues from the sale of antiquities and kidnap for ransom, while difficult to quantify, are unlikely to have been major sources of income. …
“There are no signs yet that the group has created significant new funding streams that would make up for recent losses. With current trends continuing, the Islamic State’s ‘business model’ will soon fail,” the study continued.
The study authors say the reason ISIS is currently facing financial trouble is that members constantly rely too heavily on the populations and territories they take over as sources of money.
“According to figures provided by the Global Coalition, by November 2016 Islamic State had lost 62 percent of its mid-2014 ‘peak’ territory in Iraq, and 30 per cent in Syria. From a revenue perspective, this means fewer people and businesses to tax and less control over natural resources such as oil fields,” the report stated. “There are good reasons to believe that Islamic State revenues will further decline. In particular, capturing Mosul, the caliphate’s ‘commercial capital,’ will have a significant detrimental effect on Islamic State finances.”