The Islamic State is not only a terrorist organization, but they appear to be smart investors too. The group is earning millions of dollars to fund its war by investing in foreign currency markets, a parliamentary committee said Wednesday. For ISIS, investing in currency markets is not the only white collar crime it does. The terror group also undertakes oil smuggling and extortion.
Making big gains from looted money
The Islamic State is expected to be earning up to $20 million by investing the money it looted from banks in the Iraqi city of Mosul into currency markets in the Middle East. The terror group then earns big money on currency speculation, and the amount is then wired back using unsuspecting financial authorities in Iraq and Jordan, the committee said.
The revelation came during a hearing of the Foreign Affairs subcommittee to examine the role of Britain in the Islamic State funding. John Baron, the sub-committee’s chair, wanted to know whether or not Britain, which has promised to block the Islamic State’s finance networks, is taking the required action against it.
Junior Foreign Office Minister Tobias Ellwood acknowledged before the committee that the local financial system had a “porousness” but added that efforts are being made to close it down. In December, the Central Bank of Iraq blocked 142 currency exchange houses in Iraq that the U.S. suspected of working with the Islamic State from its bi-monthly dollar auctions to weaken the Islamic State’s finance network.
“Iraq could have moved faster on this,” Ellwood said.
How is the Islamic State doing it?
During the hearing, it was revealed that the terror group’s finance chiefs use the cash looted from Mosul – estimated to be $429 million – to invest in international stock markets. Also they are using “siphoned off” money related to pension payments which the Iraqi government is still making to civil servants living in the city.
“The cash that Isil has looted, along with siphoned off pension payments, is routed into Jordanian banks and brought back into the system via Baghdad,” Baron said. “That allows the system to be exploited by Isil, in that they take a turn (profit) on the foreign currency actions and siphon that cash back.”
To channel back the profits, the Islamic State use “hawala” transfers,” which is an unregulated money transfer system in which the cash payments are made by agents in one country after a similar amount has been paid as collateral in another country.