Militants from the Islamic State are earning money hand over fist, taking in close to $1 million per day from oil sales on the black market, said one official from the U.S. Department of Treasury.
David Cohen, who is the leader in the department’s effort to undermine finances of the Islamic State, said the radical militants also receive several million dollars each month through donations from wealthy individuals, extortion as well as other forms of criminal activity like robbing banks.
Cohen said Islamic State has also received a minimum of $20 million in payments of ransom from kidnappings this year.
The Treasury Department says that with the exception of some terrorist groups that are state sponsored, the Islamic State is likely the best-funded terror group known.
Its wealth, added Cohen has been amassed at a pace that is unprecedented.
The group sells oil extracted from territory it has captured in Iraq and Syria and sells it to a host of smugglers.
The group, whose leader is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi from Iraq, wants an Islamic empire to be created in the Middle East.
Initially the group attempted to oust Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, but other groups turned against it due to its brutality.
Unlike the terrorist network of al-Qaeda, the IS receives only a small amount of funding from donors who have deep pockets. Instead, the group receives the majority of its monies through local terrorist and criminal activities said the Treasury Department’s Cohen.
He said the local entities are not suited well to combating local crime and extortion in the Middle East.
Cohen said the group robs banks and lays waste to centuries of civilization across Syria and Iraq by looting then selling many antiquities.
He added that they steal crops and livestock from area farmers and worst of all abduct and sell women and girls as sex slaves.
In Mosul a city in northern Iraq, the IS are reportedly going business to business and door to door demanding to be paid cash at gunpoint.
One witness said an owner of a grocery store who would not pay was warned by having a bomb blow up outside his business, while others have seen members of their family kidnapped.