The PJ Tatler

What Do You Suppose ISIS is Going to Do with that $450 Million They Stole?

They’re the richest terrorists in the world by far and they’ve got $450 million burning a hole in their pocket, aching to spend it on terrorist activities.

You would hope they’d spend it on Girls Gone Wild videos like Osama. Maybe they’d pay for those 72 virgins while they were still on earth.

No such luck for us. With that kind of money they could recruit an army of suicide bombers, build several of the best equipped terrorist training camps in the world, and still have plenty left over to buy weapons and explosives to kill Americans by the hundreds.

There’s 450 million reasons to prevent the ascendancy of ISIS at all costs. Tony Blair explains:

The starting point is to identify the nature of the battle. It is against Islamist extremism. That is the fight. People shy away from the starkness of that statement. But it is because we are constantly looking for ways of avoiding facing up to this issue, that we can’t make progress in the battle.

Of course in every case, there are reasons of history and tribe and territory which add layers of complexity. Of course, too, as I said at the outset, bad governance has played a baleful role in exacerbating the challenges. But all those problems become infinitely tougher to resolve, when religious extremism overlays everything. Then unity in a nation is impossible. Stability is impossible. Therefore progress is impossible. Government ceases to build for the future and manages each day as it can. Division tears apart cohesion. Hatred replaces hope.

We have to unite with those in the Muslim world, who agree with this analysis to fight the extremism. Parts of the Western media are missing a critical new element in the Middle East today. There are people – many of them – in the region who now understand this is the battle and are prepared to wage it. We have to stand with them.

Repressive systems of Government have played their part in the breeding of the extremism. A return to the past for the Middle East is neither right nor feasible. On the contrary there has to be change and there will be. However, we have to have a more graduated approach, which tries to help change happen without the chaos.

We were naïve about the Arab uprisings which began in 2011. Evolution is preferable to revolution. I said this at the time, precisely because of what we learnt from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sometimes evolution is not possible. But where we can, we should be helping countries make steady progress towards change. We should be actively trying to encourage and help the reform process and using the full weight of the international community to do so.

Where there has been revolution, we have to be clear we will not support systems or Governments based on sectarian religious politics.

At bottom, it matters because the terrorists are animated by as deadly an ideology as the world has seen. It is the combination of the supernatural with the Nazi notion of cultural superiority that makes radical Islam such a threat. Four hundred and fifty million dollars buys a lot of belief. Every success proves that Allah is on their side and what they’re doing pleases him. This is a powerful tonic for the ignorant, superstitious tribesmen from which ISIS draws its recruits.

The Maliki government may yet recover and push back the terrorists. But they already control thousands of square miles of territory in Syria and Iraq. It will take a full scale war to destroy them — a war that, realistically, only the west can fight. Since no one wants to take the terrorists on with ground troops, it will be up to drones with the occasional air strike that will constitute our counterterrorism efforts. We’ve seen how well that’s worked out in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

That $450 million (plus an unknown amount of gold bullion) is probably already circulating in the international financial markets. It’s invested in government bonds, real estate, perhaps even mortgage securities. The financial sophistication of today’s terrorists is astonishing as they are expert at hiding their funding networks from the prying eyes of government.

Return on investment is not as important as what the terrorists are going to spend that loot on.