Plummeting fuel prices and battlefield losses have forced the Islamic State to slash payroll, reports CNN Money.
Recently, the U.S. bombed a bank containing millions in cash used to pay ISIS troops, but the real blow has come from the collapsing oil market. Oil that cost $105 a barrel in June 2014, when ISIS invaded northern Iraq from Syria, now sells for less than $30.
Paying less for gas has never felt better.
ISIS troops, who are paid as much as $1,200 a month, now make less than U.S. Army privates, who make about $1,600 a month according to my math. Some ISIS regulars are paid as little as $400 a month, but, as we will see below, many augment their salary by looting and extorting those unfortunate enough to live in terrorist-controlled areas.
ISIS now makes most of its money by taxing 8 million or so residents of seized areas, including thousands of square miles in northern Iraq once under the control of the U.S. military. ISIS also has a significant presence in Libya, another oil producing country bombed by the U.S.
In 2014, the terrorist organization was pulling in $2 billion a year in total revenue, but half of that came from the one-time looting of Iraqi banks. It’s estimated the terrorist group made up to $1 billion in 2014 by stealing cash and gold from government-owned banks. ISIS generally leaves private banks untouched and taxes residents on withdrawals.
Taxes, in 2014 accounted for almost $400 million in revenue.
ISIS charges a 10 percent income tax and 2 percent sales tax. Bank withdrawals are taxed 5 percent and drugs carry a tax up to 35 percent. Residents, young and old, are also extorted for cash. Schoolchildren in ISIS areas must pay an additional $22 to $45 a month to attend school, university students $65.
Troops on major roads charge up to $1,000 to let a vehicle pass.
Christians are forced to pay for mafia-like protection services called “jizyah.” I could not find good numbers on what such insurance costs, but some estimates said Christians pay about $1,000 a year to not be murdered for their beliefs.
Oil, in 2014, accounted for about $500 million a year in revenue. ISIS sells oil to anyone who will break international restrictions on buying it, including its enemies in Syria and allegedly Turkey, a NATO ally.
Kidnappings made ISIS an estimated $40 million in 2014. Most of those kidnapped are local Christians or other non-Muslims. Hundreds of Assyrian Christians were kidnapped in 2015 and some were released for a ransom of $1,700 each.