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    Shot with an extreme telephoto lens and through haze from the outskirts of Suruc at the Turkey-Syria border, militants with the Islamic State group are seen after placing their group's flag on a hilltop at the eastern side of the town of Kobani, Syria (File)

    Cash-Strapped Daesh Turns to Unexpected Business Initiatives

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    Violence Erupts as Islamic State Rises (1881)
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    Daesh, once believed to be the wealthiest terrorist organization in the world, has lost nearly 30 percent of its monthly income since Russian and US-led campaigns have come down hard on its main revenue sources, prompting the cash-strapped militants to look for creative ways to make money.

    The group's latest business initiatives include running car dealerships, factories and fish farms in Iraq, the country's central court of investigation said in its latest report. The findings are based among other things on testimonies from detained militants.

    These enterprises allegedly bring Daesh millions of dollars a month, but they are unlikely to offset the group's financial losses. As a result, the militants have also introduced additional taxes, such as tolls for truck drivers or fees for leaving a city under Daesh control, and fines.

    Daesh's other ventures included smuggling antiquities and playing international currency markets. The group has generated up to $200 annually by selling archaeological artifacts plundered from historic sites in Iraq and Syria, Russia's envoy to the UN Vitaly Churkin said in early April. The militants are also making up to $20 million a month on currency speculation, a UK parliamentary committee revealed in March.

    Ancient Palmyra
    © Sputnik / Mikhail Voskresensky
    Ancient Palmyra

    Daesh's financial troubles forced the group in January to halve salaries of its fighters. Rumors circulate that some militants in Libya have been so desperate that they turned to poultry farming.

    "Relatives tell me IS people can now be seen standing in the streets in their black outfits with their faces covered, selling both the eggs and the chickens. And they are selling the chickens for a very cheap price of just one or two dinars," a former resident told Middle East Eye.

    Daesh's financial problems could perhaps be best illustrated by what is a marked departure from one of the group's core principles. The militants are said to have "started to accept payment of fines in cash as an alternative penalty to the hudud (corporal punishments proscribed under Sharia law)," the IHS Conflict Monitor reported in April.

    IHS analysts estimate that Daesh's monthly revenue dropped by nearly 30 percent in less than a year — from some $80 million in mid-2015 to approximately $56 million in March 2016. Taxation and confiscation make up half of the group's revenues. Approximately 43 percent, the analysts added, come from illegal oil trade, while drug smuggling, the sale of electricity and donations make up the rest.

    Topic:
    Violence Erupts as Islamic State Rises (1881)

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    antiquities, oil revenues, oil smuggling, cash, financial loss, fishing, tax revenue, business, Daesh, Libya, Syria, Iraq
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