Oil revenue plummets, so does ISIS' cash reserve
Washington: The ISIS facing an "unprecedented" cash crunch with the terror group’s revenue from the lucrative oil business plummeting by 50 per cent and oil production cut by about a third due to US-led airstrikes.
Syrian soldiers patrol the town of al-Quaryatayn, after seizing the key ISIS bastion. Pic/AFP
For the first time, US officials are seeing clear evidence of the financial strain on the group’s leadership, as reports surface of clashes among senior commanders over allegations of corruption, mismanagement and theft.
ISIS is facing an "unprecedented cash crunch in its home territory", said US counter terrorism officials. Months of strikes on oil facilities and financial institutions have taken a deep toll on the group’s ability to pay its fighters or carry out operations.
Cash shortages already have forced the group to put many of its Iraqi and Syrian recruits on half-pay and accounts from recent defectors suggest that some units have not received salaries in months.
Civilians and businesses in the ISIS’ self-proclaimed homeland complain of being subjected to ever-higher taxes to make up for the shortfall.
The strikes against oil fields, refineries and tankers have cut oil production by about a third. Overall revenue from the Islamic State’s oil business has plummeted by as much as 50 per cent because of falling oil prices and a diminished capability to make and sell refined products such as gasoline, the officials said.
"For the first time, there’s an optimistic tone," Daniel Glaser, assistant secretary for terror financing at the Treasury Department, said of the financial war against the Islamic State. "I really do think we’re having a significant impact." But "they still make a lot of money, and we still have a long way to go," he added.
Moreover, because of the group’s territorial losses in recent months — military defeats have shrunk the size of the self-declared caliphate by about 40 per cent over the past year — the terrorists now have a significantly smaller population to exploit for cash, US officials and analysts said.
Air strikes have killed several al-Qaeda-linked group al-Nusra Front’s members, including its spokesman.
Abu Firas al-Suri, whose real name was Radwan Nammous, fought against Soviet forces in Afghanistan where he met al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and the founding father of global jihad, Abdullah Azzam, before returning to Syria in 2011.