Islamic State, the jihadist occupier of parts of Syria and Iraq, makes 43% of its $80 million/month revenue from illicit sales of oil, estimates the monthly Conflict Monitor at IHS Aerospace, Defense, and Security.
The firm based its estimate for late 2015 on open-source intelligence, including social media.
“Unlike Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State has not been dependent on money from foreign donors to avoid leaving it vulnerable to their influence,” said Columb Strack, senior IHS analyst and lead analyst for IHS Conflict Monitor.
The group has at least six main sources of revenue: production and smuggling of oil and gas; taxation of the profits of all commercial activities in areas under its control; confiscation of land and properties; trafficking of drugs and antiquities; criminal activities such as bank robbery and kidnap for ransom; and state-run businesses, such as running small enterprises that include transport companies and real estate agencies.
“According to information gathered from Arabic-language social media and our in-country source network, efforts to target the Islamic States sources of revenue are paying off,” Strack said.
Airstrikes by US-led coalition forces have focused on disrupting the Islamic state’s oil income. IHS said the attacks have “significantly degraded” the group’s refining capacity and oil transport capability.
“Although the Islamic State retains its capacity to produce oil, its loss of easy access to Turkey after its defeat at Tal Abyad and the efforts by Turkish authorities to stop smuggling activities along its border with Syria have gradually forced the group to rely increasingly on the internal markets in Syria and Iraq to smuggle and sell its oil,” it said.