MS Risk Blog

US Officials Warn that IS Oil Trade ‘Worth More than $500m’

Posted on in Turkey title_rule

On Friday, 11 December, a United States Treasury official disclosed that the so-called Islamic State (IS) group has made more than US $500 million (£330m) in trading oil.

According to Adam Szubin, despite its ongoing battle to over throw the regime in Syria, IS’ “primary customer” has been the government of the country’s President Bashar al-Assad, stating, “the two are trying to slaughter each other and they are still engaged in millions and millions of dollars of trade.” He added that the group is estimated to be making as much as US $40 million a month from the oil trade, including from buyers in Turkey. Szubin has further disclosed that IS had also looted up to US $1 billion from banks in territory that it held.

Szubin has indicated that cutting off the group’s cash flow is a key part of the coalition strategy to defeat IS, noting that unlike other designated terrorist groups, IS has not relied on funding from foreign donors but has instead generated money from its own operations.

For over a year now, the US-led coalition has been bombing IS targets, including oil facilities, in Syria and in neighbouring Iraq. Recently, the US-led coalition launched a military campaign, dubbed Tidal Wave 2, which has seen air strikes intensify on IS oil fields, refineries and tankers that are being used by the group. According to findings focusing on late 2015 from UK defense consultancy HIS, IS currently generates around US $80 million a month, mainly from oil revenues, adding that it found that other sources of income include taxation, drug and antiquities smuggling, robbery and kidnapping and the sale of electricity.

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