Where ISIS Makes Its Money

Tyler Durden's picture

President Obama's 4-pronged strategy to 'degrade and destroy' ISIS includes a 'financial attack' (according to the Treasury) as they recognize, as The Daily Signal notes, one major hurdle in the way of the 'strategy' is the brutal organization's control of oil fields in Iraq and Syria; which ISIS uses that oil wealth to help finance its terror operations. Here's how they do it...



As The Daily Signal's Kelsey Harkness ( @kelseyjharkness ) notes,

According to the Iraq Energy Institute, an independent, nonprofit policy organization focused on Iraq’s energy sector, the army of radical Islamists controls production of 30,000 barrels of oil a day in Iraq and 50,000 barrels in Syria.


By selling the oil on the black market at a discounted price of $40 per barrel (compared to about $93 per barrel in the free market), ISIS takes in $3.2 million a day.


James Phillips, veteran expert in Middle Eastern affairs at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal that the revenue gives ISIS a “solid economic base that sustains its continued expansion.”


The oil revenue, which amounts to nearly $100 million each month, allows ISIS to fund its military and terrorist attacks — and to attract more recruits from around the world, including America.


To be successful in counterterrorism efforts, Phillips said,  the U.S. and its allies must “push the Islamic State out of the oil fields it has captured and disrupt its ability to smuggle the oil to foreign markets.”

Here’s how Phillips said the ISIS oil operation works:

ISIS sells oil to consumers in territory it controls, roughly the size of Maryland, inside Syria and Iraq. The terrorist group also sells oil to a network of smugglers that developed in the 1990s during Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s rule; that network smuggled oil out of Iraq into Turkey to avoid sanctions imposed by the United Nations.

ISIS also reportedly sells oil, through middlemen, to the Assad regime in Syria that is trying to quell rebellion there. When it comes to making a fast buck, the Middle East has no shortage of “strange bedfellows” willing to do business with each other.

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Dr. Engali's picture

I don't know where ISIS makes it's money, but I do know where they get their funding.... the CIA.

DetectiveStern's picture

Who's buying the Oil I wonder...

nope-1004's picture

Saddam tries to sell oil in Euros and gets obliterated from it?  Khadaffi in Libya?  Mubarak in Egypt?

ISIS steal American military equipment, secure oil fields selling the oil to finance terrorism and are allowed to do so and grow over a 3 year period?

I call bullshit.


NotApplicable's picture

Hey now!

You're not supposed to connect these dots.

That's cheating!

Cacete de Ouro's picture

Why does one person always end up with all the hotels in the monopoly board game?

That's because that is the whole point of the game

fauxhammer's picture

Obama has 4 prongs now?


Yesterday he had just 2...

Flagit's picture

Its the Ebola Stratagem.

Every few days, the prongs double, until we hit Peak Prongs.

Pinto Currency's picture



This is quite funny.

The Israeli's say they call the Mossad the Israeli Secret Intelligence Service or ISIS.

Just imagine the "Who's on first" discussions at Mossad.  Obama is trying to switch to 'ISIL'.



Pinto Currency's picture



Imagine screening the ISIS guys at the Israeli field hospitals in the Golan:


Who do you work for?


You mean us or you work for us through Hillary?

...How confusing

Almost as confusing as IDF soldiers fighting for Neo-Nazis in Ukraine.


Unless you wanted to tangle-up Russia in a crisis so that they would be less likely to step into an attack on Syria.


Paveway IV's picture

Israeli interests go much further than merely tying up the eternal thorn in their side for their Middle East domination schemes: Russia. 

Israel seeks the destruction and dismemberment of Russia once and for all. Without Russian interference, Israel (through their U.S. proxy) would have had Syria, Iraq and Iran disarmed and pacified. There would be no competition for Israel's Eastern Medditeranian gas monopoly.

Putin can hold his own aginst feeble U.S./NATO encirclement attempts, but he will not tolerate either Mossad or the CIA skulking around Moscow stirring up dissent. Putin can laugh off the desperation in NATO's attempts to get him to invade Eastern Ukraine. He will not be so casual about Israel or the U.S. screwing around on Russian soil, and that's exactly what they're doing now.

China is next, so you know they're watching all this very closely. 

JRev's picture

More fucked up word games from TPTB, nice catch. When they started throwing the ISIS monicker around, I was immediately thinking Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI... ISI's? ISIS?


ISIS, IS, ISL, Islamic State, or whatever they're being labeled today, were originally calling themselves the Mujahideen. Now where have I heard that name before?

"I, Isis, am all that hath been that is or shall be,
I, who made light from my feathers, The wind from my wings,
No mortal man hath ever unveiled me!"
Invocation of ISIS

nope-1004's picture

And this one too:  https://public.isishq.com/public/SitePages/Home.aspx

Your reference to the Mujahideen is explained here at the 10:00 mark:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMjXbuj7BPI

JRev's picture

Indeed. I casually watch MSLSD's Morning Joe on occasion, largely because Mika Brzezinski is a co-host. She has "Dad" on fairly frequently, always a fun listen. Evidently, Zbignew and Richard Haas were at the White House on Tuesday night before Barry's speech, "assisting" with foreign policy direction. Hmm.

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

That's right, the MOSSAD report to the Israeli PM, under the name Israeli Secret Intelligence Service (ISIS).

The Brits don't like to be called MI-6.  They prefer SIS (Secret Intelligence Service).

Canada has its own "CIA", called CSISCanadian Security Intelligence Services, headed by Michel Coulomb -- who gets a real charge out of the job.  Shocking, I say.  Shocking.

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

Ah, but did you get the last bit in the 1'58" version?  The Mossad's sensitive topic of Immigration... The Mossad's scope is not only for the protection of Israelis, but for the protection of all Jews in the world.

It's job is not only to gather info from Israeli Jews, but from all Jews in the world. This includes gathering intelligence about their host country -- all under the pretext of Jewish interests.  So, wherever they are, their TRUE and ULTIMATE allegiance is to the State of Israel, and its Mossad ("Institute" in Hebrew). In their case, being a Dual Citizen means Dual Rights, but Ultimate Loyalty only to One:  Israel.

Say What Again's picture

How does one sell 1000s of barrels of oil a day on the black market?  Maybe you use invisible pipelines. Do you ship it in very dark Panamax ships?  Which makes me wonder if this has any influence on the Marine Indexes

James_Cole's picture

How does one sell 1000s of barrels of oil a day on the black market?

If there are buyers there are sellers, and there are always buyers. Most of the reporting I've seen doesn't look too closely at the buyers, but ships have a tendency to 'disappear' and then reappear. 


150,00 bpd estimate

Paveway IV's picture

Not to point any fingers, but who has been in the news recently for buying millions of barrels of half-price, stolen oil?

StychoKiller's picture

You KNOW who, so why not just spell it out?

Falconsixone's picture

Shhhh.....Hey buddy wanna buy a tanker of oil? ....Half price....You could make a lot of money....Just send your tanker around back and they'll take care of you.  Later......

PT's picture

The capitalist sells the rope that is used to hang him.
The capitalist buys the oil that funds the terrrrsts that terrrrrrize him, errr, but only with the money he has left over after paying his taxes to fund the CIA that ...

PT's picture

... but my Economics text book assures me that it is all okay.  By directly funding the terrrrsts, eventually they become rich and then they become fat and lazy and they can't be bothered terrrrrizing anyone anymore and then some cheaper, more efficient terrrrsts will rise up and-, ummmm, no, that's not it, ummm...., global trade will giv us werld peas!!!

orez65's picture

"The capitalist sells the rope that is used to hang him."

That is such bull sh.t!

It's so easy to just blame it on the "capitalists"

The whole fuck..g world needs oil to survive. Socialists, communists, mercantilists ... Even the fucki.g North Koreans.

I wouldn't call Assad a "capitalist", yet the article says that's who they are selling the oil to.

You are full of sh.t!

Falconsixone's picture

Does anyone profit or do they give it away at cost or as a needed tool for the system to move "forward"? So they capitalize thus making  them capitalists?

James_Cole's picture

The whole fuck..g world needs oil to survive. Socialists, communists, mercantilists ... Even the fucki.g North Koreans.

One country sort of has an outsize demand for energy / oil (esp. per capita). See if you can spot them:



PT's picture


The communist has his rope taken from him but that's okay because it is going to be shared with the whole commune ...

tony wilson's picture

obarme has 4 prongs now...


NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise!... Surprise and fear... fear and surprise... Our two weapons are fear and surprise... and ruthless efficiency! Our three weapons are fear, and surprise, and ruthless efficiency... and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope... Our four... no... Amongst our weapons... Hmf... Amongst our weaponry... are such elements as fear, surpr... I'll come in again.

taketheredpill's picture



ISIS just opened a station around the corner from me.  Prices are VERY competitive.

sandhillexit's picture

I thought we had experts on turning the financial screws?!  Are they being paid in metal moving across a border?  stop the transport.  Are they being paid at Turkish banks? Call Erdogan, give him three days, and then make it stick. (Of course it requires that the US, UK, FR, GER, ISR, KSR & SWI all are on board since Turkey has accounts in all of the above)  Are they being paid in Dollars? Shekels?  Riyals?

This isn't hard.  The Dollars sit in NY, the Lira sit in Istanbul and the Shekels sit in TelAviv.  Only the title to the account changes, through a formated message on SWIFT.  Are they opening new accounts once a week? Are they changing names on the accounts?  How are they moving the money to weapons suppliers?  NSA is spending billions harrassing Yahoo, but they can't sort out the wire transfer room at HSBC or Hapoalim?  And if the answer to the pop quiz is Riyals in Riyadh, then it is time to tell that small and inconvenient family business that we've had enough.  Give them 3 days and then make it stick.

NidStyles's picture

They were selling it for Dollars, and this is the inherent risk with Fiat currencies and morons in charge. Eventually you are making deals with crazy people because you are both too desperate to turn elsewhere.

Rory_Breaker's picture

Yup you can run a human trafficking and organ trade business and the CIA won't care as long as you use USD

pods's picture

So Assad is buying ISIS oil that they had ripped off from him?

They will do anything to drag that guy through the mud.  Whether he deserves it, idk, as I don't care what people do in other countries.


TruthHunter's picture

"I call bullshit."

Anybody notice how every turn in Ukraine calls for new sanctions?

Yet, I didn't hear Obama  mention sanctions even once  in connection with  ISIS. 

Never mind hip boots, i need a lifeboat.

sgt_doom's picture
It does seem rather murky, now don't it?  Iraq War:  Version 2.0 The Jimmy Carter Directive:  Version 2.0   Some years ago, back in the 1990s, Zbigniew Brzezinski --- national security advisor to the Jimmy Carter Administration, gave a radio interview in France where Brzezinski boasted that Carter had issued a directive to destabilize the then-secular government of Afghanistan (this occurred in the late 1970s, you understand).  The plan, with the help of Saudi Arabia (those beheading-loving doods), was to relocate a whole bunch of Wahabist religious extremists (that's Sunnis) to Afghanistan's northern border with the Soviet Union in order to raise a ruckus (foment trouble, since the Muslims living there were followers of Sufi Islam, a more moderate form of Islam). 
The plan worked, and supposedly hastened the downfall of the old Soviet Union. Of course, Brzezinksi later claims he never gave such an interview, after the deadly attacks by Sunni extremists (al Qaeda) on the two American embassies in Africa, and the attack on that US Navy vessel off the coast of Yemen later, and the terrorist attacks in Bali, London, and oh yeah. . . those 9/11 attacks. Now, there has never been an outright denial, nor confirmation, from former President Carter, but if we view what is occurring in the present in the Middle East, in Syria, Iraq, Turkey, etc., it sure appears those ISIL (formerly known as ISIS) attackers are following the Carter directive, utilizing a pseudo-religious extremist platform to recruit extremists to their cause, which is to occupy and control Syria and Iraq (and maybe one day, who knows, perhaps Saudi Arabia?). Now, I don't claim to know nor understand the full story of what is going on, but can only follow the money flows, and the financing of ISIL or the Islamic State In the Levant (which I read about first in Nostradamus about thirty or so years back, oddly enough? ? ?) appears to come from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and Saudi Arabia through Qatar. With the capture of various oil fields (small ones in Syria, larger ones in Iraq) and the Mosul Bank in Iraq, ISIL now has a number of independent revenue streams; millions of dollars per day from the oil, and an estimated one-half billion dollars --- and gold on hand --- from that captured Mosul Bank. The original arms came from, or were financed by, the American government, either mistakenly supposed to have gone to the Free Syrian Army, or purposely and knowingly shipped to ISIL? Regardless, it is a safe bet that any further arms shipment to Syrian rebels will also end up in ISIL's hands, which should make any and all apprehensive about the present strategy and tactics of the Obama Administration, assuming they are really adamant about degrading and destroying ISIL? One can safely infer that the reasoning behind Saudi financing of ISIL was to disrupt the governments of Syria and Iraq, who came under the influence of Iran (Shi'a), and perhaps that is why American weapons also ended up in ISIL's possession.  

Either way, this strategy appears as moronic and self-defeating (unless viewed from the POV of the global banking cartel and the Saudis) as the original strategy to invade Iraq because the US was attacked on 9/11/01 by a majority of Saudi Arabians, together with a small number of Yemenis with stolen Kuwaiti passports.

  Again, it is important to realize the outcomes of the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan:  Iraq again trades its oil in US dollars (helping to bolster the USD as the world's reserve currency, given unprecedented economic power to the USA), allowing for foreign ownership of the Iraqi banking system and its acceptance of credit derivatives as valid financial instruments, and directing Iraqi oil to China in support of the multinational factories and processing facilities there. In Afghanistan, oil and gas pipelines now flow across that country to India, supporting the multinationals' factories and processing facilities in that country.

El Oregonian's picture

Al-CIA-Da morphs into I-Sell (you oil)... to continue to rape, rob, and pillage mankind...

666's picture

I hope Israel enjoys the cheap oil while it lasts.

Dr Strangemember's picture

Israel doesn't really need the benefit of cheap oil... they're a tiny country with tons of NG.   But I am picking up what you're dropping.

Jameson18's picture

Tons of NG that they are stealing from the Palestinians and Egyptians. They also don't need 12 billion dollars a year from the American tax payers but they steal that also.

tony wilson's picture

the rabbi is busy busy isis oil and the kurd stolen stuff.


Israel receives iraqs stolen  oil from the traitorious kurd


Holistic's picture

You cant steal whats yours and you cant be traitorious to your enemies, you should learn how to google.

Downtoolong's picture

Who's buying it?

Someone making about $50/bbl on the spread, I imagine.

Gotta be at least one Israeli entrepreneur in that bunch too, I bet.

The Wizard's picture

That is my question. Does this mean that when I purchase petro I am supporting terrorists. Please don't arrest me, I didn't mean to!

Renewable Life's picture

At $42 a barrel, everyone with a coffee can to a fucking tanker ship!!!

Most of the people on ZH I love, but most have only a western libritarian/conservative perspective on the world! It's why everyone screams CIA/Mossad every time something doesn't add up, but in order to truely understand WTF is going on in the non western world, you first must think and internalize a reality unlike anything your accustom too!

First off, it's fucking mythology that the CIA/Mossad/British Intelligence controls the fucking world and every square inch of ground on it, including water ways, airways, and international commerce!!

Secondly, in the non western world, only one fucking thing matters, power to secure wealth, period, no one gives a fuck about freedom, democracy, human rights, gay rights, racial equality, national loyalty, political history, military history, flags, or any fucking thing else that doesn't lead to power to secure wealth!! It's tribal, it's brutal, it's base human shit people, base level survival of the fittest shit!!!

It's how Ghadafi ruled, it's how Saddam ruled, it's how Assad rules, it's how Mubarak ruled, it's how ISIS is ruling, and it's how it's done in every other place in this planet, where human beings have no history or identity but to survive!

America and the West have no ability to operate in this reality, no power to control things on the ground, and no plan or context to succeed in this world, they never have and never will!! Places like the ME will be the graveyard of the West, like they have been for centuries!!

Bush thought he was going to bring "freedom and democracy" to the masses there, Obama thinks he can reason and negotiate with them, both these insane bullshit ideas have been met with the same utter defeat and disarray of our people and military. Winning battles and losing wars is a failed, insane, ridiculous strategy and it's been the MO of our Military for 30 fucking years now in the ME, starting with the Marine barracks in Lebanon up until today with ISIS!

The real situation is this, the West in absolutely powerless to succeed in any agenda they have in the ME, period! Once we embrace this reality and understand it, maybe we can move past this madness into a new future, but until then, get ready for more wasted wealth, dead bodies, and failure on a grand scale!!

Jethro's picture

I regret that I have only one up-vote to give you.

PT's picture

... like a wild donkey in the desert?  That no-one can tame?

Brings back vague memories from somewhere ...

JRev's picture

What you're describing is called the Strategy of Tension, a tactic of the British Empire and Anglo-American Establishment that you don't think has much power.


"It's tribal, it's brutal, it's base human shit people, base level survival of the fittest shit!!!"

Yes, indeed it is. Who came up with that term, "Survival of the Fittest?" Who came up with Social Darwinism? British eugenicists, maybe? Where'd they get that idea? Ever heard of or read Thomas Malthus? You make a lot of declarative statements, not many question marks; a trend in humanity that terrifies me.


Radical Marijuana's picture

I basically agree, Renewable Life, the temporary superiority of the European systems of organized lies operating robberies have now been imitated and hybridized by everywhere else that those methods were able to conquer and assimilate.

My view is that the advancing systems of lies backed by violence, amplified to astronomical sizes by more scientific technology, are now out of any human control. It is not merely that the previously dominate empires are losing control, it is that the basic structure of Neolithic Civilization is madly destroying itself. The "power to secure wealth" is destroying wealth at an exponentially accelerating rate. The "base level survival of the fittest shit" has paradoxically been powered up trillions of times by science and technology, in ways which have ended up becoming collectively suicidal.

Final failure from too much "success" is the direction in which we are all headed, where that fighting will destroy everything being fought over. There is a growing Grand Canyon of paradoxical contradictions flowing from human beings understanding general energy systems better and better, while none of that can be applied to human systems, since those had a history of their success being based upon deceits and frauds. The trajectory of scientific technology being primarily applied to become better at being dishonest and backing that up with violence is arcing over the whole world.

The temporary superiority at doing that which the Europeans developed, which enabled them to conquer the rest of the world, has now be spread everywhere, and everyone is now locking into that insane social spiral of being able to fight trillions of times harder to "secure wealth" in ways which no longer work. In theory, we should go through paradigm shifts in the ways that we understand the human systems of artificial selection, that developed from their sources in natural selection pressures. HOWEVER, the main ways that will actually happen ARE "more wasted wealth, dead bodies, and failure on a grand scale!"

I suggest that the genuine solutions are as paradoxical as the problems. Namely, we need better death controls, which requires us to understand the basic concepts regarding death controls in radically different ways. So far, we have developed science and technology first and foremost to make weapons to continue the "base level survival of the fittest shit" ... which becomes more insane at an exponential rate, since the Grand Canyon gaps between advancing science and technology, versus all of the other old-fashioned religions and ideologies keeps on getting bigger and BIGGER!

In my view, the only way that the Western world could regain real leadership is IF it went through some additional series of technological and political miracles. However, at the present time, it appears that the ruling classes in the Western world still believe in some of the most old-fashioned religions and ideologies. In my view, the ONLY thing that the Western world developed that was generally worthwhile was improvements to the scientific method. Furthermore, the ONLY way that could continue would be through being applied to better understand human societies. The problem is that doing that would necessarily have to overcome most of the established ways that old-fashioned religions and ideologies now interpret the world.

Nobody is ever going to be able to negate the forces of natural selection, which have at their "base level survival of the fittest shit." On the contrary, what is required is a series of intellectual scientific revolutions to profoundly change political paradigms, so that the forces of natural selection, as manifested through human systems of artificial selection could be better understood. HOWEVER, doing that requires admitting and facing the social facts that the real human history developed the established systems on the basis of the maximum possible deceits, and frauds, which, when amplified trillions times, have  become suicidally insane, rather than continue to be viable resolutions of the chronic political problems inherent in the nature of life.