2014 June 29 Sunday
ISIS: Self-Funding Like A Mafia

ISIS is run like a business, albeit a business with heavily motivated religious jihadi employees. Read this full McClatchy piece if you want to understand why ISIS is so resilient after years of US efforts to destroy it.

In accordance with the Islamic State’s business model, Johnston said, cells were required to send up to 20 percent of their income from local enterprises _ such as kidnapping ransoms and extortion rackets _ to the next level of leadership. Higher-ranking commanders would examine the revenues and redistribute the funds to provincial or local subsidiaries that were in dire straits or needed additional money to conduct attacks.

ISIS went on the offensive once its businesses and captured assets got large enough to let it pursue more ambitious goals. The corporate expansion is risky though because it has drawn so much attention to itself. But as some pretty cool maps from Al Jazeera show the offensive is almost entirely within Sunni-majority areas.

When the US had large numbers of soldiers and intelligence agents on the ground it failed to wipe out this operation. What are the odds A few hundred American special forces stationed in Baghdad can do it now? I do not see the elites in Washington DC having the persistence and will to win this one.

Contrast ISIS/ISIL fighter performance with the Iraqi military which the US spent $25 to create.

Built and trained by the U.S. at a cost of some $25 billion, the Iraqi Army quickly collapsed in the last few weeks against well-equipped rebel fighters. For the Americans tasked with helping to create the country’s security force, it’s a disturbing, though not unexpected, blow.

Maybe the Iraqi units would perform well if offered cash prizes for each town they recapture?

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2014 June 29 09:04 PM 

Jim said at June 30, 2014 6:02 AM:

The collapse of the Iraqi "Army" is one of the least surprising events in history.

ISIS seems to operate like most governments.

Jim said at June 30, 2014 6:13 AM:

After 9/11 the US set out on a policy of destabilizing the Middle East. Given the inherent instability of this region this turned out not to be difficult. But like the sorcerer's apprentice we cannot control the forces we have helped unleash.

Mercer said at June 30, 2014 5:05 PM:

Al Jazeera's maps conflict with most other news sources in two areas: It shows ISIS in complete control of Aleppo. It makes it look like ISIS has a lot of oil. ISIS may get a big refinery but most of the oil fields are near Basra or under Kurdish control.

I don't think 300 Americans will do much. Iran will send help as they are also doing in Syria and this will be more important then Obama's token gesture.

Contemplationist said at July 1, 2014 9:30 AM:

I guess funding them, providing arms and training counts as trying to destroy them.

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