War is hell. It’s also expensive, as ISIS is finding out even in the zeal to take over and convert as much of the Middle East to their brand of Islam as possible. Internal documents leaked from inside the caliphate and obtained by Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, a leading scholar who tracks ISIS and a fellow at the Middle East Forum, claim that the terrorist money machine is slashing salaries to its fighters by as much as 50%.
ISIS soldiers earn between $400 and $1,200 a month, plus a $50 stipend for their wives and $25 for each child, according to the Congressional Research Service.
And that money is about to be significantly less for a population that is heavily taxed to help pay for all that ISIS does. (ISIS may operate as a government, but for employee loyalty, we Americans might advise being sure the paid fighters really believe in the cause before taking away a key incentive for their participation.)
“On account of the exceptional circumstances the Islamic State is facing, it has been decided to reduce the salaries that are paid to all mujahideen by half, and it is not allowed for anyone to be exempted from this decision, whatever his position,” the ISIS’ government wrote in a memorandum.
Despite the pay cuts, the Islamic State said it “will continue to distribute provisions twice every month as usual.”
What those “exceptional circumstances” are is not made clear, but given that a large percentage of ISIS’s income is derived from black market oil, a commodity that is currently experiencing VERY LOW wholesale prices as the Saudis try to bankrupt the start-ups in the American oil production market, one should assume that that specific revenue stream has suffered losses recently for this and other reasons.
Vladimir Putin has pressured the black market in oil lately, and western air strikes on oil facilities inside the territory ISIS controls have made an impact on their production as well. This combination of circumstances may well be putting pressure on ISIS monetarily, but to the tune of 50%?
The Islamists of ISIS are finding out that far more than glorious, war is expensive. Oops.