Outline on How Isis Gets Money

Table of Content

Brief History About ISIS

ISIS stands for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. They are also known as ISIL which stands for Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. There are known to cause fear within and outside of countries. Whether it is bombing monumental building that contains a lot of people or just causing mayhem where they are. But in order to make bombs, supply their people with weapons, and travel; they need money to do so. So that leads to question where do get the funds to do their actions? And how much do they get?

How is Money Obtain From Outside the Country?

Private donation

Some websites say that the Islamic State have an estimate to received up to $40 million in 2013-2014 from businessmen, wealthy families and other donors in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. Many of these donors choose to fund the Islamic State because of fear and animosity for Iran and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. (Swanson 2015) The Brookings Institution in 2013 observed that donors in Kuwait were giving up to hundreds of millions of dollars to various Syrian rebel groups. But there are other funds, that are unregistered charitable organizations give money to the Islamic State, and they are still open to the public. (Nyce 2015)

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Kidnapping for Ransoms

A U.N. report from October in 2014 estimates that the Islamic State had managed to get $35 million to $45 million in 2013 through kidnapping for ransom alone.

The United States and U.K. have tried to limit this by making it illegal to pay for ransoms. This policy can seems mean to the families that are affected by kidnapping, but officials make sure that it is wrong for terrorists to take American and British hostages in the first place.The ISIS also get insane amount of money from kidnapping for ransom in its own communities, which does go unreported. (Swanson 2015)

How is Money Obtain from Within the Country?


Many reports have documented Islamic State’s practice of selling women and girls into marriage or sexual slavery, including many women from the Yazidi and Shia-Turkmen minorities. ISIS is known for killing the men from these areas. Females are undressed, checked their virginity and evaluated for attractiveness. The youngest and virgins, who are more attractive are the girls who are the most expensive ones. They are taken to the ISIS´shuman markets in different places in Iraq and Syria. (Callimachi 2015). ISIS leaders can choose first, the girls they like for free. After that, the people who are not part of ISIS are to pay up to thousands of dollars to buy the girls they want to have. The rest of the girls are sold to fighters for about $40- 165 dollars, depending on their qualifications. (Smith 2015). Which means, that whatever girl is left over was sold much cheaper than other girls. The men selects about three to four females at once, and uses them as a test trial to see if they are the perfect fit. When the owner has had enough, the girls are brought back to the market. There are somewhat 3000 to 5000 females enslaved by ISIS at the moment. Many have been either killed or committed suicide, and the lucky ones have been able to escape. Many girls had tried to take their lives by cutting their wrists, drinking poison and electrocuting themselves in bathtubs. (Human Rights Watch, 2015). By selling girls to the wealthy non-ISIS members, the organization makes some extra money, but it is not the main reason why ISIS is in the industry. In the end, ISIS probably does human trafficking to meet the sexual demands of its male soldiers, and to humiliate the people, who they consider infidels.

Body Parts/ Organs

The Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations, said that bodies have been found mutilated, and openings have been carved out of the backs of the corpses. To Mohamed Alhakim, that indicated ‘some parts are missing.’He said it’s possible that ISIS is harvesting and trafficking the organs of dead civilians.” According to Mohamed Alhakim, ISIS harvest and sell human organs from prisoners and slaves before their execution for money(Ahlert, 2015). Many of the prisoners that are not executed, are at least forced to donate large amounts of blood (Huusko, 2015). These victims could include other minorities such as Shia, Christians, Turkmen and Shabak. They reveal hundreds of ISIS victims lacking several body parts, kidneys and livers. Surgical carvings on the body, plus missing organs lead to this conclusions of ISIS being involved. (Ahlert 2015). The information about organ selling started to leak when otolaryngologist Siruwan al Mosuli recognized uncommon movement at hospitals in Mosul. It came out, that the organs come from dead fighters, wounded people and most of all from ISIS victims. If the doctors refuse to remove the asked organs, they are killed. In February 2015, Alhakim requested the U.N. Security Council to research the vague and sudden deaths of 12 doctors in Mosul (Strobel, Landay, Stewart 2015). There were documents that gave religious permission to take organs from live “apostates”, for the sake of saving the life of a Muslim. So there is no telling if every person was willing to give their organs up or were they forced to do so?


ISIS sells artifacts and other cultural items on the black market. The areas that is controlled by ISIS contains artifacts from ancient Mesopotamia.. They also have taken control of museums, private collections and archaeological sites, such as the 9th century B.C. grand palace of Assyrian king Ashurnasirpal II. This has given the ISIS a large supply of precious art and historical artifacts. ISIS has at least 4,500 cultural sites under its control, according to the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force.Some of these cultural artifacts are destroyed, and others are sold for a profit. The antiques can be resold into markets in Turkey and Jordan, and from there to Europe and other advanced countries. Other U.S. estimates put the total volume of trade in antiquities at more than $100 million a year. (Fantz 2015)

Control of Areas in the Country

ISIS controls a good amount of terrioritories, which they can tax the people who live there. Some of these taxes are similar to those of a normal state, while others are more like extortion, where they use violence to get this money.

ISIS taxes on things including goods sold, utilities such as electricity and water, telecommunication companies, cash withdrawals from bank accounts, employee salaries, and trucks entering ISIS territory at checkpoints.. A report by Thomson Reuters estimates that this extortion and taxation of people in those areas could be as much as $360 million per year for ISIS. People in the area describe a kind of two-tiered system, where the ISIS fighters and their families receive a variety of free services, including housing and medical care, while others are taxed heavily. (Swanson 2015) Basically ISIS fighters were treated better than others because they supported their terrorist organization.

The oil fields that it has captured in Syria and Iraq have been a major source of funding for ISIS. Although it’s easy for the United States and other countries to prevent large-scale exports of oil from ISIS, it’s much harder to control the black market oil trade. ISIS mostly takes oil into small mobile refineries, then ships it by truck to the Turkish border, where oil brokers and traders buy it. Because the trade is illegal, the oil is sold at a discount that can fluctuate at anytime. Smugglers will use mobile messaging apps such as the Whatsapp to coordinate exchanges of products. Oil sales initially provided ISIS with a lot of money, but that has been declining over the years because the U.S. and other countries are get involved to stop this. By October 2014, the U.S. had reportedly destroyed about half of the group’s refining capacity. The United States has also tried to identify and target oil brokers and encourage Turkey to take measures to stop the smuggling on its border. Also the engineers and other technical experts necessary to make these products have either fled the area or been killed. (Swanson 2015) And ISIS has been trying to recruit to do this work because the money is starting to decline and they need revenue to continue their activities.


What I took from this is that ISIS is going to have decrease in their revenue when more years pass by. Whether it’s the U.S. and other countries stepping in and controlling those borders (stopping the oil revenue). I honestly think with enough time that it will eventually crumble on its own. There is a weakness in their system, and they keep trying to find different outlets to gain money. But when there is no outlets to turn to and their way to get money declines. They will be no longer to fund themselves and others who work for them. Which eventually leading ISIS in slippery slope.

Work Cited

  1. Ahlert, A. (2015). “ISIS Trafficking Human Organs?”. Frontpage Mag. http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/251753/isis-trafficking-human-organs-arnold-ahlert, accessed 10.10.2018
  2. Callimachi, R. (2015). “ISIS Enshrines A Theology Of Rape”. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/14/world/middleeast/isis-enshrines-a-theology-ofrape.html?_r=0 , accessed 10.10.2018
  3. Fantz, A.(2015). “How ISIS makes (and takes) money” https://www.cnn.com/2015/02/19/world/how-isis-makes-money/index.html, accessed 10.10.2018
  4. Human Rights Watch. (2015). “Iraq: ISIS Escapees Describe Systematic Rape”. https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/04/14/iraq-isis-escapees-describe-systematic-rape , accessed 10.10.2018
  5. Huusko, J. (2015). “ISIS-asiantuntija “Kalifaatin” Todellisuudesta: Sisäelinten Myyntiä Ja Nuorten Aivopesua. Helsingin Sanomat. http://www.hs.fi/ulkomaat/a1431921020194, accessed 10.10.2018
  6. Nyce, C.(2015). “Three ways ISIS gets its money” https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/11/three-ways-isis-gets-its-money/452031/, accessed 10.10.2018
  7. Smith, S. (2015). “Young Girls Sell For $165 at Islamic State Slave Markets; Price List Verified by UN Official”. CP World. http://www.christianpost.com/news/young-girls-sellfor-165-at-islamic-state-slave-markets-price-list-verified-by-un-official-142345/ ,accessed 10.10.2018
  8. Strobel, W., Landay, J., Steward, P. (2015). “Exclusive: Islamic State Sanctioned Organ Harvesting In Document Taken in U.S. Raid”. Reuters. http://www.reuters.com/article/ususa-islamic-state-documents-idUSKBN0U805R20151225 , accessed 10.10.2018
  9. Swanson, A. (2015). “How the Islamic State make its Money”. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/11/18/how-isis-makes-its-money/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.b582cf066c1d, accessed 10.10.2018

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