Iraqi officials reported that the Islamic State, which lost their physical caliphate territory in Iraq this year, raked in half a million U.S. dollars from kidnappings in 2017 in one governorate alone.
Jabbar al-Maamouri, a commander in the Shiite Popular Mobilization Forces that are being integrated into the Iraqi Armed Forces, told AlSumaria News that ISIS raked in the cash in Diyala province, an area of 1.2 million people stretching from northeast Baghdad to the Iran border.
“IS militants launched a series of attacks at some regions in Diyala in 2017 through its sleeper cells in Hamreen, Qurret Tabbah and Neft Khana. The group obtained amounts of money that reach up to around US$500,000, in accordance to information we have,” al-Maamouri said.
“The abduction has turned to an internal source of funding for the group, which collected the money to reinforce its sleeper cells. This indicates the activity in some regions including Hamreen, which are encountered by security troops.”
Iraqi forces declared Diyala province liberated from ISIS in January 2015.
Al-Maamouri said the families of the kidnapped often don’t report the crime and instead try to free their loved ones as quickly as possible by paying “huge amounts of money, which is wrong as this would support terrorism and encourages more abduction.”
The families are likely terrified by ISIS’ record of kidnappings early in their occupation, in which women and children were abducted and sold into slavery that was sometimes years-long. IraqiNews reported today that at least 62 mass graves of Yazidi civilians, including entire families, have been discovered so far in Sinjar. “IS executed them collectively on the eighth day after controling Sinjar. We were watching from the top of Sinjar mountain how they executed and buried them using machines in mass graves,” said acting Sinjar Mayor Fahd Hamed Omar, calling it “the biggest genocide in the modern times.”
Before the holiday break, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan told Congress that he believes there is a tie between terror groups’ financing and the slave trade that’s popped up in parts of Libya in which smugglers end up selling African migrants trying to make it to Europe.
“The reports of what’s happening in those camps where migrants, refugees are being abused, exploited and slave trade — shocking,” Sullivan told the House Foreign Affairs Committee during a hearing on counterterrorism efforts in Africa. “It’s happening in areas of Libya that are largely ungoverned, which is why we need — we’re working hard, along with the UN, for a political solution to the situation to get more control over those areas.”
“But in those ungoverned areas where ISIS and other terrorist organizations are able to operate, they make money by engaging in activities like that,” he added.
Pressed on which terrorist groups are involved in the slave trade, Sullivan replied, “I would have to get back to you for a specific answer. I can speculate.” He said difficulty in being able to access areas where the camps are located “presents a real problem for us in trying to directly address the problem.”