The ISIS Story: From Foreign Funding to an Organized Racket

Grim Picture of Reality

When the ISIS (short for Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) initially emerged as a fundamentalist organization and the first set of international media reports were set abuzz, it was mostly thought of as a by-product of foreign funding of terror from the US, UK, Israel and even Saudi Arabia. However, the story of ISIS is very different, and while many terrorist organizations are weaned of power given the gradual lack of foreign funding over the years, this organization only seems to be growing bigger and more dangerous. Yes, off late there have been territories that have been freed of its clutches, but a major chunk of Iraq and Syria still remains with their so-called ‘Caliphate’. So what is the story of the ISIS as far as funding is concerned, and how has it managed to survive despite the constant war and rebellion? Here’s a grim picture of reality.

Full-fledged Extortion Racket

It was in medieval times when Islamic conquerors would take over fresh territories and use the land, gold and women to their benefit. This is the exact funding principle of the ISIS fighters in today’s world. Not only have they created a mini-Islamic caliphate over their conquered territories, but they have also systematically worked out n extortion-based parallel economy there in order to reduce and thereon almost eliminate their dependence on the foreign funding. This includes kidnappings, torture, extortion, illegally selling electricity and even taking over the export of oil. There also have been news reports of their organized trafficking of women and children as slaves. As per them, they are following the tenets of the Quran by using the annexed Yazidi women as sex slaves, but this is in fact a clever recruitment strategy as we’ll discuss in the next paragraph.

Clever Recruitment Tactics

To control such a vast area and run a terrorist organization of this stature, the first and foremost requirement is to have able fighters. Now the ISIS is already running short on funds (given that the few oil deposits in their areas are drying up); so they cannot afford to pay well. Even the ‘blow yourself up to go to paradise’ argument doesn’t appeal much to the youth of today. So the ultimate lure that they are being offered for recruitment is a free supply of sex slaves, and the chance to redeem their Sunni community by driving out and exterminating the Shias. This brainwashing has worked like a charm, especially using organized social media channels to lure fighters from across the world.