(Photo: shutterstock) (Photo: shutterstock)

As it intensifies militarily, the Islamic State is also becoming a financial powerhouse, making millions from ransom paid by the West.


The Islamic State (IS or ISIS) terror group operating in Iraq and Syria has accumulated a vast sum of $35-45 million over the past year in ransom money, an expert on the issue told a UN commission this week.

Yotsna Lalji, a UN specialist monitoring al-Qaeda, told a meeting of the UN Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee that an estimated $120 million in ransom money was paid to terrorist groups around the world between 2004 and 2012.

Lalji further warned that this lucrative source of income for terror groups is on the rise, as is the number terror groups themselves. She said that terrorist groups operating in the Middle East, Asia and Africa have made kidnapping “the core al-Qaeda tactic for generating revenue.”

AP quotes Lalji as saying that al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which operates from Yemen, received $20 million in ransoms between 2011 and 2013, and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which operates in North Africa, received $75 million over the past four years.

She said that the Islamic al-Qaeda-linked extremist groups Boko Haram in Nigeria and al-Shabab in Somalia also “have collected millions of dollars over the past years,” and the Abu Sayyaf militant group in the Philippines has received about $1.5 million in ransoms.

IS has kidnapped several Westerners and became infamous for beheading them on camera as a punitive action against the West for its attacks on the terrorist organization.

PressTV reports that many governments do pay ransom money in order to release their nationals kidnapped by terrorist groups. The U.S. says it will not change its position against paying ransom for American hostages.

Richest Terror Group in History

Forbes Israel has ranked the Islamic State as the richest terror group in history, with $2 billion in annual revenues. Hamas came in second with a $1 billion yearly income.

“The financial power incurred by an organization like ISIS poses a threat to the Western states and to the moderate Arab countries,” IDF Major-General (Res.) Giora Eiland told Forbes. “ISIS needs cooperation with other countries for its financial endeavors to succeed. ISIS, with all its accumulated financial assets, requires cooperation from a second party. Its oil, for instance, it sells to Turkey, so ultimately there is cooperation with it [ISIS], and that is disturbing.”

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Author: United with Israel Staff