ISIS is Running Out of Money, and They Need to Expand to Keep it Going

February 28, 2015 Updated: February 28, 2015

ISIS is relying too much on its oil exports and it needs to gain more territories if it wants to keep its reign of terror going, says a new report.

The group, known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, has funded its operations by seizing oil fields, theft, kidnappings, extortion, and may even be dabbling in organ harvesting. The group also exploits NGOs and charities in the region.

According to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), ISIS has to expand “in order to maintain its financial management and expenditures in areas where it operates” in attempting to explain the group’s projected strategy. The Financial Action Task Force is comprised of government officials around the world and is based in France.

“The need for vast funds to meet organizational and governance requirements represents a vulnerability to ISIL’s infrastructure,” it adds, referring to another name for the group. It’s currently not clear if ISIS’s “revenue collection through the illicit proceeds it earns from occupation of territory, including extortion and theft, will be sustainable over time.”

The FATF said it’s imperative for foreign powers to cut off the “vast revenue streams,” which is “both a challenge and opportunity for the global community to defeat this terrorist organization.”

“A number of traditional countermeasures used to deprive terrorist organizations of its funds are not applicable with respect to the new model adopted by ISIL,” the report states. “However, like any terrorist organization, ISIL’s financial, logistical and supply networks are vulnerable.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a group that’s been monitoring the situation in Syria since the uprising began years ago, also noted that ISIS needs money.

“They need money,” the group’s head, Rami Abdulrahman, told Reuters. “Ever since the airstrikes hit their oil facilities and the Turkish border has been harder to cross, they have increased taxes and looked for ways to make money.” He added that ISIS has started to sell scrap metal from bombed-out facilities in eastern Syria.

The lack of money could be why ISIS recently kidnapped more than 220 Christians–for ransom. “Over the past year, ISIL has raised substantial revenue through ransom payments for kidnapped victims, with FATF members providing estimates that range from 20 million USD to 45 million USD,” the FATF report states.

In elaborating on ISIS’s revenue stream, “Still more funding comes from the sale of counterfeit cigarettes, pharmaceuticals, cell phones, antiquities, and foreign passports. The trafficking of some of these commodities into Turkey from Syria has risen dramatically,” says a report from Foreign Affairs.