News You Really Need To See: “Islamic State’s Risky Business”

Not What You Might Think

“Islamic State’s Risky Business”

Bloomberg Businessweek, August 28, 2014

A lucrative criminal empire supports Islamic State’s operations.   According to a recent RAND report, its diverse criminal operations bring in $1 million a day.  Operating on a spoils-of-war principle, it lives mainly off plunder, emptying the banks of towns it captures, confiscating and stealing goods—mainly machinery, construction equipment, automobiles—which the group sells at a discount to buyers in Iraq and elsewhere, and seizing the property of those who have been forced to flee.  Its videotaped demolitions of Shia mosques and Christian religious sites conceal a profitable trade in antiquities.  Recently captured records of its financial transactions show that in one region of Syria alone, the group netted $36 million from smuggling plundered archeological artifacts.  Ransom from kidnappings, protection money and other extortion, and taxes levied on the population it controls—even truck drivers pay road taxes—augment the group’s income…

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