Where are terrorist groups getting their money?
Terrorists groups have money - a lot of it. One question that hasn't been answered is how terrorists groups have funded their operations. From ISIS to Boko Haram, each terrorist group funds itself in different ways.
Countries WERE funding terrorism, but some still allow it.
It seems like governments are smart enough to not fund dangerous terrorist groups who are threats to world affairs. Unfortunately, this assumption is not the case. There are three governments that are guilty of either funding terrorists themselves or allowing people living in their country to fund terrorists. Surprisingly enough, all of these countries have legislation that pronounces not just funding terrorism, but terrorism, in general, illegal, but still they are responsible for funding certain terrorists groups.
The most extreme example, Kuwait actually has no counterterrorism legislation. Only in December of last year was a counterterrorism law even proposed. In 2006, during Al Qaeda’s “prime,” Kuwait openly acknowledged that it did not have, ‘“a law..devoted to terrorism.’” In 2013, Saudi Arabia finally decreed that, “the crimes of terrorism and financing of major crimes shall be punishable under the law.” Until 2013, practicing global terrorism was technically legal in Saudi Arabia. Qatar actually pronounced “money laundering or terrorist financing” illegal in 2010, but like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, they are guilty for giving ISIS money when it was a small, localized terrorist group. All three countries were funding rebels fighting against Bashar Assad, the Syrian dictator, but one of the groups they funded was ISIS. However, pressure has mounted against all three countries, and they are being forced to criminalize terrorism and reign in the donations of its wealthier people.
Source(s): http://alandaluslaw.com/documents/terrorlaw.pdf, http://www.unodc.org/tldb/pdf/Qatar/QAT_AML_2004_E..., http://www.loc.gov/lawweb/servlet/lloc_news?disp3_..., http://www.newsweek.com/2014/11/14/how-does-isis-f...
There are other people funding terrorism, some unknowingly.
If governments have begun to shut down their funding to terrorists groups, they must be getting their money from other places. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, there are three main places from which terrorists get their money: charities, illicit activities, and front companies. Charities were one of the “most important source of funds for al-Qaeda.” Many muslims look to donate to charities that promote Islam because donating is one of the pillars of Islam. Unfortunately, some of the charities “can be coopted by jihadists who…use the funds to promote their own radical cause.” As a result, money from anywhere in the world can fall into the hands of terrorists. Illicit activities of terrorist groups include anything from the drug trade to “selling counterfeit t-shirts on Broadway.” This is quite a broad spectrum, and it show how diverse sources of funding are for terrorists. The last is front companies that “generate their own profits and can also be used as a front for money laundering.” Bin Laden owed honey shops in the Middle East and Pakistan that funded al-Qaeda operations.
The reason terrorist businesses and black markets have not been shut down is because terrorists are often aware of government policy and “adjust their operations accordingly.” Since they are so reliant on illicit activities and deal mainly in cash, they often leave behind little to no paper trail. As domestic planning and funding of attacks become more popular, governments will continue to struggle to end terrorist funding.
Perhaps the most infamous terrorist group, Al-Qaeda, unsurprisingly due to the fact that they fund Boko Haram, gets its funds in very similar ways to Boko Haram. Since 2008, al-Qaeda was payed “at least $125 million in ransom…largely by European governments to free western hostages. Because there are often no other ways to rescue the hostages, governments and large companies “pay in almost every case.”
Countries have begun to cut back on paying ransoms. The U.S. and Britain, “refused to pay to free kidnapped nationals…with the result that few have been rescued in military raids or escaped.” G8 leaders have signed a deal to “‘reject the payment of ransoms to terrorists’” and the funding for al-Qaeda is becoming smaller and smaller.
In a country where “70 percent of people live on a dollar or less,” Boko Haram’s “limitless amount of heavy weaponry, vehicles, bombs, and ammunition,” seems impossible. Unlike ISIS, which is almost completely self-funded, Boko Haram’s funding is much harder to trace. Boko Haram is tightly tied to al-Qaeda, and its leaders have admitted that “much of their funding comes from al-Qaeda.” Still, Boko Haram must have more sources of money than another terrorist group.
Boko Haram gets a lot of its money from the black market. There is an active slave market in Nigeria, and Boko Haram is a key component of it. Kidnapping is also very profitable as Boko Haram extracts “concessions from the Nigerian state and other governments…foreigners and Nigerian government officials.” Last year, Boko Haram was paid $3 million just for releasing a French family. The group is even involved with bank robberies, and these robberies account for over $6 million of the group’s money. Because the group is so heavily involved in Nigeria’s politics and tax collection, cutting of funding to Boko Haram is nearly impossible.
Most people don’t realize that, at this point, ISIS is completely “self-funded and deep-rooted.”
As we discussed in class, ISIS is a state, not just a religious, fanatical cult, but it is a state that makes over a million dollars per month. How is a state that has sanctions from every other country in the world able to make one million dollars a month to keep its evil operations going?
We’ve already spoken about the taxes that ISIS enforces on its citizens, and there’s no question its taxes provide a huge amount of the revenue for ISIS. The state operates “with virtually no law enforcement to rein it in,” so they can tax whatever they want, whenever they waynt. Everything from moving your truck to starting a business will cost you money in ISIS-controlled territory. Of course, if the tax is not payed, the punishment is death.
But ISIS’s biggest source of revenue is its oil wells. Because ISIS can smuggle oil from different part of the oil-rich middle east, they have multiple oil facilities in this region. In places they control, they have monopolized the oil trade and are able to sell gasoline at $7.50 per gallon. The U.S.’s drone strikes have been targeting ISIS’s oil facilities, and although this seems like a good idea, because ISIS controls so much of the money flow domestically, “coalition airstrikes…aren’t enough to destroy the kind of self-financing mob that ISIS has become.” The only real solution is to take back territory that ISIS currently controls.