It is no secret that the crack al-Qaeda "spin-off" ISIS is well-versed in the ways of the modern world: from quickly taking control of (i.e., robbing) a central bank, to capturing the latest and greatest in US military equipment, to staging an amazing blitz-campaign that has resulted in the creation of a caliphate and captured the bulk of northern Iraq and a third of Syria including all of the former country's oil fields, to even having glossy year end annual reports, one would almost be forgiven in assuming that some vastly more strategic minds are behind what on paper at least would be a far more disorganized force. Now, judging by the latest revelation from Reuters, showcasing ISIS as a consummate commodity trader, one could even assume that a major Wall Street bank (or Swiss-based "independent" commodity trader) is behind the effort.
According to Reuters, a top Iraqi government grains official said on Wednesday that Islamic State militants are taking wheat from state silos in northern and western Iraq, in order to mill it there and in neighboring Syria.
This is hardly surprising and is in fitting with the theme of the Islamic State as a self-sustaining entity, at least until Wall Street advisors find ways to pitch currency swaps to the jihadists, allowing them to engage in global money laundering trade, masked by Goldman, HSBC and the like.
Hassan Ibrahim, Director General of the Grain Board of Iraq, the Trade Ministry body responsible for procuring Iraq's wheat internationally and from local farmers, told Reuters the militants had seized wheat in recent weeks from government silos in the provinces of Nineveh and Anbar.
Between 40,000 and 50,000 metric tons (44,092 tons to 55,116 tons) of the crop was taken from government silos in Tal Afar and Sinjar in Nineveh Province, where hundreds of thousands of residents, many of them ethnic and religious minorities, have fled the militant onslaught.
Again, nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, considering that ISIS is merely taking physical delivery of commodities probably rehypothecated thousands of times already by the abovementioned banks, one can hardly fault the bloodthirsty murderers: it is after all what everyone else should be doing in a world in which the paper to physical dilution ratio is about 100 to 1 (granted ISIS never even had paper claims to the wheat but that's a formality), regardless of one's proclivity to cannibalism and cutting off heads.
Where it does get interesting, however, is the following spin on plain vanilla daylight robbery.
Militants seized a further 700 tonnes from storage sites in the western province of Anbar in the past three weeks and took it across the border into Islamic State-held areas in Syria for milling, he said.
Ibrahim said militants tried to sell wheat stolen from Nineveh back to the government in other provinces.
Or said otherwise, a strategy so brilliant Goldman is wondering how it didn't think of it first...