Washington, Jun 10: The Islamic State terror group made nearly USD one billion in total revenue last year, half of which came from the sale of oil, and earned as much USD 350 million per year by extorting funds from the local population, a top US Treasury Department official has said.
ISIL's sources of income include oil and gas sales, extortion and taxation, external donations, kidnapping-for- ransom, and previously, bank looting, Daniel Glaser, the Treasury's assistant secretary for terrorist financing said.
"We estimate that in 2015, ISIL made approximately USD 1 billion dollars in total revenue, USD 500 million of which came from the sale of oil, primarily through populations under its control," Glaser said, using the US's preferred acronym for Islamic State.
"We also estimate that ISIL may have earned as much USD 350 million per year, by extorting funds from the local population and in connection with the financial and commercial activity taking place in the territory it controls," he said yesterday in written testimony for a House of Representatives committee hearing on security threats.
ISIL also gained considerable funds from seizing control of state-owned banks in northern and western Iraq in 2014 and early 2015, he told the lawmakers.
"These funds from the bank vaults were estimated to be at least half a billion dollars at the time of capture, making them an important, albeit non-renewable, source of financing for ISIL in its earlier days," Glaser said. Other less significant sources of revenue include kidnapping-for-ransom (KFR).
"We estimated that ISIL earned between USD 20 and USD 45 million from KFR in 2014.
However, we assess revenue from KFR declined substantially in 2015 and 2016 owing to the greatly reduced presence of potential Western hostages in or near the territories it controls," he said.
The senior official said the ISIL clearly has vast financial resources, but the Obama administration has seen indications that America's efforts to disrupt ISIL's sources of revenue are bearing fruit.
Through airstrikes, the Coalition has directly targeted ISIL's entire oil and natural gas supply chain: from oil fields, to refineries, to tanker trucks, targeting ISIL's primary source of revenue, he claimed.
"While difficult to quantify, the strikes have undoubtedly impeded ISIL's ability to produce, sell, and profit from oil as it had been doing," he said. Glaser also said that recent Coalition strikes have also reduced the levels of cash in ISIL-controlled territory.
US-led Coalition airstrikes have targeted ISIL's cash storage sites, destroying tens of millions, and possibly more than 100 million dollars, and eliminated senior ISIL officials, including the group's de facto finance minister.
For the first time since it proclaimed its caliphate in June 2014, the Islamic State has come under financial pressure following a sharp drop in oil production in territories it controls among other measures, a recent UN report had said.