A week after the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) announced its takeover of the Iraqi city of Mosul, staggering figures of the money the Sunni jihadists have plundered from the nation are beginning to surface. Sunni jihadists aren’t the only ones who pose a threat to the West, however, as a Shi’ite leader recently called for arms against American forces.
The New York Times reports that ISIS control over cities like Mosul, among the largest in Iraq, and Baiji, home to a major oil refinery, has netted the group revenue in the hundreds of millions. One member of the board of governors of the Central Bank of Iraq told the newspaper anonymously that they believe ISIS got away with $85 billion. The governor of Nineveh Province, where Mosul is located, estimated that number at $400 million from Mosul’s central bank alone.
Considering the 9/11 attacks cost only $500,000 to execute, as Breitbart National Security Affairs editor Dr. Sebastian Gorka has pointed out, the potential for future devastation from $85 billion in the hands of a terrorist organization is immense.
In addition to the money stolen from banks, ISIS funds itself by levying taxes on residents in the cities it conquers, particularly on Christians, as well as other more conventional methods of extortion, like kidnapping and smuggling. During this current siege of northern Iraq, ISIS is believed to have kidnapped 40 Indian nationals working in the country and recently is believed to have released a Danish photographer abducted in Syria. The group uses the money not only to buy weapons and other munitions to continue its advance in the Middle East but to fund social media initiatives and propaganda campaigns used to recruit more jihadists.
The Times also reports that ISIS captured five American-made helicopters in Mosul, which they may use to attack other cities. The helicopters join a Humvee vehicle, also American, which ISIS jihadists on Twitter used to mock First Lady Michelle Obama.
As President Obama announces the arrival of 300 American troops to Iraq, said to be present for advisory roles to the Iraqi military, Sunni jihadists are not the only threat facing them. A Shi’ite cleric loyal to militia leader Muqtada al-Sadr has threatened American soldiers to stay out of Iraq and called for the mobilization of troops to attack Americans should they return to combat in the country.
“We will be ready for you if you are back,” cleric Nassir al Saedi threatened the United States, acting independently from the Shi’ite Iraqi government, which has requested military assistance from the United States in the form of airstrikes. While the Iraqi government, led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, continues to request help from the United States, the possible formation of a Shi’ite jihadist militia working to defeat the United States could force troops to battle two threats at the same time and create a strange union between ISIS and Shi’ites, whose corpses ISIS social media often display following mass executions.