MOSCOW, September 21 (RIA Novosti) - Wealthy private donors from the Gulf states continue to finance the Islamic State (IS), but on a lesser scale, said James Stavridis, former US Navy Admiral and NATO Supreme Commander, according to NBC News.
Stavridis, now the Dean of the Fletcher School of Diplomacy at Tufts University, compared the rich Arabs who sponsor extremists to “angel investors” funding tech start-ups, “except they are interested in starting up groups who want to stir up hatred.”
The two Gulf nations that particularly stand out in terms of turning a blind eye on illegal fundraising are Qatar and Kuwait. “A number of fundraisers operating in more permissive jurisdictions - particularly in Kuwait and Qatar - are soliciting donations to fund extremist insurgents,” Daniel Cohen, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in April, according to a press release on the US Treasury Department’s website. He added that these funds are often directed to by terrorist groups, including the al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda offshoot in Syria, and the Islamic State.
Donors view Islamist groups as an investment. “The individuals act as high rollers early, providing seed money. Once the groups are on their feet, they are perfectly capable of raising funds through other means, like kidnapping, oil smuggling, selling women into slavery, etc.,” the expert explained, as quoted by NBC News.
Indeed, private donations are far from being the primary source of revenue for the radical Sunni group that currently controls large swathes of Iraq and Syria. Experts say that IS mostly generates funds through oil smuggling, with some claiming it raises up to $2 million daily.
“(IS) receives some money from outside donors, but that pales in comparison to their self funding through criminal and terrorist activities,” a senior State Department official said, as quoted by the Jerusalem Post.
Most significantly, the money IS gets is used for recruiting new fighters, buying weapons and providing basic services to the people living in what the Islamists call caliphate. Hence, the strategy to fight IS has to involve defunding the group.
The US and Europe are reportedly working in that direction. For instance, in August, the US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on three individuals from Kuwait for financing IS and al-Nusra Front, according to Reuters.