At its height, the Islamic State group was the wealthiest terrorist group in history. File photo: Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iraqi intelligence agents announced Thursday they have dismantled a multinational ISIS funding network – calling it the biggest such bust in Iraq’s history.
“The biggest finance group of Daesh in the history of Iraq has been dismantled,” the National Intelligence Service said in a statement Thursday, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group (ISIS).
Without delving into detail, the statement says the finance network was scattered across several countries with branches across the globe.
“This group, in its financing, depended on currency exchange offices and a variety of shops, through a complicated method, to disguise and confuse monitoring the movement of its funds,” the service said.
No details were given as to how much money the network handled, nor did it mention any arrests.
After conquering swathes of territory across Iraq and Syria in 2014, ISIS became the richest terrorist organization in history, controlling vast wealth and assets including oil fields to fund its operations and build its so-called caliphate.
On October 9, 2018, the Kurdistan Region’s counterterrorism forces published footage of its offices raiding an ISIS finance ring. Ten senior ISIS financiers were arrested in Baghdad and Erbil, according to the US-led coalition.
In Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, there are a huge number of small currency exchange shops which are wide open to exploitation by money launderers.
On Monday, CNN was told by a US military official that more than a thousand ISIS fighters recently crossed into Iraq from Syria carrying up to $200 million in cash.
The jihadists, now territorially defeated, have lost many of their sources of revenue. Its self-reliant sleeper cells must now infiltrate Kurdish and Arab villages around the Qarachugh, Makhoul, and the Hamrin mountains to find food and water.
There has also been a rise in kidnappings for ransom money, with fighters often demanding tens of thousands of dollars.