Monday, November 23, 2015

Defunding Islamic State

"[How critical? About $3-billion flows into ISIL-controlled coffers annually] mainly derived from illicit proceeds from its occupation of territory [in Iraq and Syria but increasingly from] new and emerging technologies."
"ISIL has manipulated social media, physical and virtual social networks, encouraged donations and conducted a marketing campaign in a manner that is consistent with industry standards established by major crowdfunding companies."
Financial Action Task Force report

"If there was a global commitment, we would pull the plug on terrorist financing in a day, and [ISIL] would be incapacitated in a month because no terrorist organization is a financial island."
Christine Duhaime, terrorist financing expert, Vancouver

"In Mosul [northern Iraq] alone, the Islamic State has implemented taxes on a variety of commercial activities. [There is even a] protection tax (jizya) levied on non-Muslims."
"In total, the extortion/tax system imposed in areas under its control in Iraq and Syria could generate as much as $30-million per month for [ISIL]."
Jean-Charles Brisard/Damien Martinez, terrorism experts
Islamic State fighter on the march in Raqqa Photo: AP

There are two battlefields to be addressed in the war against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant; one on the military side, the other on the financial side. One without the other will express an incomplete victory against the organization's wide operational territory. Terrorist financing is global; the stretch of Islamist jihad is as wide as the Internet can reach and that is universal.

Funding is steady and it's reaching Islamic State coffers through a wide variety of sources, not the least of which is 'donations' trickling in from just about every country in the Western world where Islam has made its signature presence. From among the masses of Muslims living peaceful lives in democratic countries of the West there is a relative handful who are complicit with the rise of Islamist jihad and they see themselves required to fund the global caliphate.

The money is gratefully received and it is used to massacre people innocent of any crime but their mere existence. There are other activities; extortion, theft, smuggling, human trafficking, kidnapping, fund-raising exploits hiding behind the shield of representing charitable enterprises. Al-Qaeda in Iraq was "self-sustaining", able to raise between $70-million and $200-million annually by 2006, according to U.S. government files.

Islamic State brings funding to a whole new level, leaving its predecessors in the dust of small-change in comparison. Many experienced military commanders who had served proudly with Saddam Hussein before 2003 are now in the controlling cadres of ISIL. They are well served by thousands of combatants who have the use of heavy weapons; artillery, armoured vehicles, tanks and other armaments, courtesy of the United States.

Those weapons, provided to the Iraqi armed forces and abandoned in their haste to remove themselves from the direct vicinity of Islamic State fighters, obviated the need to procure them through ISIL's financial resources; another economic benefit to the caliphate. There is no shortage of Kalashnikovs. A rocket launcher, over a dozen handguns, bulletproof vests, combat gear and allied military hardware was found in the possession of the Paris attackers, all ISIL comrades-at-war.

ISIL has the manpower and the funding it requires and as such the group "represents a new form of terrorist organization where funding is central and critical to its activities", according to an independent, inter-government body supported by Canada, the United States, Britain, France and other democracies with a horse in this race to destroy the potential represented by Islamic State's rise to power and its irresistible attraction to many Muslims living in the West.

Twitter has been an invaluable aid, attacting ISIL sympathizers, happy to contribute to ISIL's appeal. Alternatives to traditional banking and money-transfer systems embrace electronic crowd-funding actions from the democratic countries of the west. That's the easy targets; to stem the flow from those sources; not quite easy, but it can be done. As for the most lucrative sources of revenue; stolen assets such as oilfields and banks, that's another thing.

Localized funding sources like "taxes" are immune to being impeded as long as Islamic State is in control of territories it has gained over the past several years. But ISIL supporters in the West, and they are there and in ample numbers, should and can be cut off from raising or transferring funds directed toward terrorism under the guise of charitable donations. The most unfortunate transfer of funds are those instances when governments succumb under wraps to paying ransom for abducted citizens.

Funds directed to "terrorist hot spots" need more close scrutiny at the point of transfer; which is to say using routine banking services to transfer funds from client accounts in the West to accounts controlled by ISIL must be cut off. Wire transfers should be viewed with suspicion and time taken to verify their legitimacy -- or lack of. Governments must see the need to toughen up enforcement. Financial institutions should be working with intelligence authorities.

Much depends upon it.

Abu Rafiq -- ISIL resister, Raqqa

Labels: , , ,

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Follow @rheytah Tweet