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Who pays for ISIS in Libya?

(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)

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A recently released report said that ISIS was weak well before the US Airstrike campaign began in Sirte last month. The report said that ISIS was low on cash and had a hard time maintaining its control over the coastal city.

The report “Who pays for ISIS in Libya?” was released by Hate Speech International (HSI). HSI explained that ISIS’s finances were based on smuggled supplies, stolen goods from those who fled Sirte, a tax system, and forced donations. Their financial system collapsed after Libyan forces cut them off from their resources and cornered the terrorist group in Sirte’s central neighbourhoods.

The HSI report also noted that for groups like ISIS to survive they need to constantly be expanding into new territory because more territory means more taxes which means better finances for the group.

ISIS was able to fund its activities in Sirte by hijacking the Central Bank of Libya’s transport vehicles in Gaddafi’s hometown back in November 2013, which the report said was carrying $55 million. Since many of the ISIS recruits in Sirte fought against Gaddafi in the Libyan uprising the report says these fighters were receiving state salaries from the General National Congress (GNC) and also had access to a large stock of weapons and ammunition which gave ISIS a good starting capital.

ISIS’s defeat in Sirte could create greater issues for Libya and its neighbouring countries. HSI predicts that ISIS commanders will flee to Libya’s desert carrying “large amounts of cash” and weaponry to regroup along “southern arms, drugs and human trafficking routes, embedding themselves within tribal and ethnic conflicts in the southern region.”

Any funding ISIS obtained is rerouted to their territories in Syrian and Iraq to pay their fighters and to cover the costs of administering the areas they control.

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