The Islamic State group is a self-sufficient organization with diversified sources of funding, and possesses enough weapons to carry on fighting for two more years, according to a new report from the United Nations Security Council. On Monday, the U.N. had proposed imposing sanctions on ISIS to help cut off the flow of funds to the group.
In addition to having control over a number of assets in both Iraq and Syria, ISIS also enjoys the benefits of a substantial, and continuous, revenue flow from a range of sources, including the sale of crude oil, ransom, extortion and donations. The group's sources of funding and arsenal have provided ISIS with mobility and range, allowing the group to have a limited defense against low-flying aircraft, as well as staying power, according to the U.N. report.
“A significant unknown is how much money ISIL is expending on a daily basis, in particular following the launch of a multilateral coalition military campaign against it,” the U.N. report said, adding that, “sanctions can help squeeze revenue options for the group by disrupting the sale of specific commodities.”
ISIS, which is reportedly the world’s wealthiest terrorist organization, earns the bulk of its funds from its control of oil fields in Iraq and Syria. The group is capable of producing nearly 47,000 barrels of oil each day, with most of the output coming from fields in Syria. Citing various sources, the U.N. report also stated that ISIS likely charges $18 to $35 a barrel, and based on the estimated daily production, the group’s projected potential revenue from crude oil could range between $846,000 to $1,645,000 a day.
According to a member state not named in the report, ISIS raises as much as several million dollars each month through extortion, while another member state said that the group has raised an estimated $35 million to $45 million in a 12-month period from ransom payments.
ISIS is also said to have several hundred thousand tons of wheat under its control, which it could try to sell on the black market. There have been reports that ISIS is also trafficking in women and children in local markets, the report said.
“The sources of ISIL funding listed above only tell one part of the story,” the report said. “The so-called ‘burn rate’ -- how fast it is using up the funds it has, and whether it is operating a surplus or deficit in financial terms -- is crucial to establishing its overall financial position.”
ISIS Arsenal Matches Those Of A Military Force
Although there are no confirmed estimates of the amount of conventional arms under ISIS’ control, the U.N. report said that weapons seized by the group from the government of Iraq and armed forces in Syria are in excess of those required by a militia, and better match those of a country's military force. ISIS also has fighters with experience in conventional warfare, including the use of tanks and artillery, according to the report.
The “amounts of Iraqi small arms and ammunition captured by ISIL are sufficient to allow ISIL to continuing fighting at current levels for six months to two years,” the U.N. report said, adding that ISIS also possesses improvised explosive devices.
ISIS' arsenal, according to the U.N. report, includes T-55 and T-72 tanks, U.S.-made Humvees and machine guns. The group also has short-range anti-aircraft weapons, such as shoulder-mounted rockets and other “extensive supplies of ammunition.”
ISIS, which has extensively used light and armored vehicles to maintain highly mobile tactics, rather than relying on heavy artillery, also has apparently used mines to deter the advance of the Iraqi army, according to the report.
To combat ISIS, the U.N. report also urged countries to deny aircraft permissions to land or take off from rebel-held regions. It also insisted on more information to be shared among countries to stop the sale of arms and crack down on recruitment by militant groups.