ISIS 'mafias' made $15 million a month in Iraq province: Inquiry

ISIS militants in a screenshot from YouTube.
ISIS militants in a screenshot from YouTube.YOUTUBE

BAGHDAD (AFP) - The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group made US$11 million (S$15 million) a month from "organised crime" in Iraq's Nineveh province before seizing it and capital city Mosul, a parliamentary report obtained by AFP says.

Before Mosul was overrun on June 10 last year, ISIS members acted like "mafias managing organised crime," and controlled "all the economic resources of the province," said the report, the product of a parliamentary inquiry into the failures that led to the city's fall.

The extremists had "a specific system for collecting money" and imposed "specific rates" on different social groups as part of its highly successful racketeering, according to the report, which has not been publicly released.

Officials from Nineveh said ISIS initially received some US$5 million a month from this system, but that figure more than doubled to US$11 million soon before seizing Mosul, according to the report, which did not specify when its extortion efforts began.

The report cited various examples of "taxes" levied by ISIS, including on petroleum products being transferred from a major refinery in neighbouring Salaheddin province, which brought in some US$1 million a month.

Cement was also "taxed" in a similar fashion, while ISIS also received the salaries of 300 Mosul municipality contractors, bringing in about 75 million dinars (roughly US$62,000) a month.

Provincial councillor Zuhair al-Chalabi said thousands of doctors paid at least US$300 a month to ISIS, while some 1,400 private generator owners paid at least US$200 each.

"Everyone was paying Daesh, even the vegetable sellers," the report said, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS.

The first case of ISIS extorting money that was discovered by security forces was in a wholesale vegetable market, which generated US$200,000 a month.

This funding was "a major economic resource that helped in a fast and efficient way to entrench this terrorist organisation and double its human and logistical capabilities," the report said.

The fact that ISIS could collect money in this way even under the authority of the Iraqi state represented "the most prominent manifestation of the failure" of security forces in Nineveh, it said.

When ISIS seized Mosul and surrounding Nineveh province last June, it gained open control, but at the cost of some of the lucrative revenue streams that were cut off by the conflict.