Jihadist groups are the new Mafia in their use of the wages of crime

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL December 15, 2014

THG9cBX-360The BBC is running a big study on jihad – its toll, its cost and funding sources. (Click here to read the feature.) On Friday, December 12, the BBC came up with this line: “Islamic State is ‘probably the best-funded terrorist organisation’ the US has ever confronted”.

It went on to say that jihadist groups such as the so-called Islamic State, Boko Haram and so on, are no longer reliant on wealthy backers. Instead, they are well able to pay for themselves buying and selling (oil, drugs, contraband), smuggling and kidnapping.

The Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, says the BBC, is estimated to have earned $20m this way between 2011 and 2013. IS is said to have raised up to $45m in ransom payments this past year.

In other words, the wages of crime.

So what’s new?

The mafia has always thrived on just this. And when the world and technology and banking regulations changed, the mafia changed as well. As The Economist reported back in 2007, the Italian mafia “has moved on…the Mafia’s asset-management strategy has shifted into the sort of complex financial instruments that even the most financially astute regulators have trouble keeping tabs on.”

Expect that too, from jihadi groups, over time.

(Tomorrow: As with the Mafia, starving jihadi groups of money is not at all easy)