In the report released by the Central Bank, a total of $100 million and 856.5 billion Iraqi Dinars ($727.6 million) was taken from Iraq, totaling almost $830 million. AFP photo
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Since its rise in 2014 ISIS managed to steal over $800 million from Iraqi banks and reserves, according to a report published by the Central Bank of Iraq.
“The 800 billion [Iraqi dinars] helped them pay salaries and make everyone happy at first, to win over some hearts,” said Qusay Muhyaldeen, an analyst at Euphrates Advisors, a Delaware-based investment company that manages the Euphrates Iraq Fund as reported by Newsweek on Wednesday.
In the report released by the Central Bank, a total of $100 million and 856.5 billion Iraqi Dinars ($727.6 million) was taken from Iraq, totaling almost $830 million.
“They have made a lot more from confiscating property, exporting oil, human trafficking and the smuggling/weapons businesses,” Muhyaldeen said.
ISIS became one of the richest militant groups in history, using its territorial hold in Iraq and Syria to gather funds from a variety of income streams, including looting and taxing people, confiscating property and possessions as well as smuggling oil out of Iraq.
Foreign support through donations, trade of ancient artifacts and hostage-taking were also bringing in a source of income for ISIS.
Once Abu Bakr al Baghdadi declared its caliphate in Mosul in July 2014, ISIS captured over 100 private and public bank branches across Iraq.
Muhyaldeen said that over half of the $830 million taken in from Iraq was stolen from the Trade Bank of Iraq’s vault in Mosul. The Trade Bank of Iraq is the main institutions Baghdad uses for trade and financing.
In the campaign by Iraqi troops and US led coalition forces to retake Mosul from ISIS, the coalition targeted bank facilities with airstrikes it says were being used by ISIS.
An ISIS cash storage facility was hit by a coalition airstrike in January 2016 destroying “millions” of dollars the group was using to hold money it had collected from oil, looting and extortion, US officials said.
Now that ISIS is losing ground in Iraq, especially with the liberation of Mosul and nearly half of Raqqa in Syria, the militant group is also being blocked from revenue causing their resources are quickly dwindle.
Estimates show that the militant group’s revenue dropped from $1.9 billion in 2014 to just $870 million in 2016.
London-based defense consultancy IHS Market reported that in the first quarter of 2017, ISIS had lost 80 percent of the revenue it was once bringing in.
Figures show that in mid-2015 ISIS was making an average of $81 million per month but by mid-2017, that amount dropped to $16 million per month.
Revenue from illicit oil and gas trade dropped by 88 percent while cash stream from tax and confiscation dropped by 79 percent.
It remains unclear exactly how many sources the militant group currently has at its disposal, however figures show that its reserves have significantly declined, making ISIS much weaker than it once was.
Analysts predict the trend will continue as military operations in Iraq and Syria continue in an attempt to eliminate ISIS and liberate areas under its control.