Islamic State is often cited as the richest terrorist organization to have ever existed;
but, the description is flawed, says report co-author Peter Neumann.
“IS isn’t just a terrorist organization, it is a quasi-state, which means it has territory, it has a population,
and most of its income comes from that territory.
It taxes people, it extracts oil, and it also loots and confiscates the property of people who’ve fled.”
Because its income is intrinsically linked to the territory it controls, the group is weakening.
The Global Coalition, an association of 68 countries fighting against Islamic State,
says the group has lost 62 percent of its territory in Iraq since 2014, its high point, and 30 percent in Syria.
Iraqi forces, backed by the United States, have seized control of eastern part of Mosul
and expect to drive Islamic State out of the western half of the city in the coming weeks.
“If ISIS now loses Mosul, which is the commercial capital of the caliphate, a lot of its tax base will erode too.
And that’s why we’re concluding that the business model of ISIS is about to collapse,
it’s failing, it’s no longer able to sustain itself.”
The nature of the group means an accurate analysis is difficult.
It operates largely on the black market and there are few paper trails.
But evidence suggests IS’s annual revenue has been cut by more than half from $1.9 billion in 2014 to a maximum of $870 million last year.
There are no signs the group has created other revenue streams.
“My prediction is that as ISIS’s territory declines, ISIS will revert to what they used to do before they had territory,
which was to involve themselves in smuggling and in criminal extortion.”
But Neumann warns that the declining in income may not limit the group’s ability to carry out terrorist attacks outside its territory.
Henry Ridgwell，for VOA news, London.