Written by Tsvetana Paraskova; Originally appeared at Oilprice.com
Islamic State is running online casinos as the terrorists try to compensate dwindled revenues from oil smuggling after they were driven out of vast areas in Syria and out of Iraq, Vasily Nebenzya, Russia’s Ambassador to the United Nations, said on Thursday.
“They are honing their skills with modern technology,” The Moscow Times quoted Nebenzya as telling the United Nations Security Council meeting.
“Caliphate fighters are not shying away from seeking revenue from online casinos,” the top Russian diplomat to the UN said, citing a report by the UN Counter-Terrorism Office.
As of the end of last year, ISIS revenues from oil smuggling and extortion were down to US$2 million per month, while the overall monthly earnings were at US$3 million, according to Nebenzya.
To compare, the UN has estimated that back in 2015, the annual income generated by ISIS from oil and oil products was between US$400 million and US$500 million.
Over the past two years, the U.S.-led coalition that is fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria has managed to cut the militants’ oil revenues to less than US$4 million monthly from a peak of US$50 million, statistics by the coalition provided to USA TODAY in October 2017 showed.
According to the sixth report of the Secretary-General on the threat that ISIS (or ISIL) poses from January 2018, “The ability of ISIL to generate revenues was considerably weakened during the reporting period, largely owing to the group’s loss of control over oil and gas fields in the Syrian Arab Republic. Because of these and other losses, ISIL’s revenues have fallen by more than 90 per cent since 2015. These losses notwithstanding, the group may not have completely lost the ability to profit from hydrocarbons, and it could continue to obtain funds through extortion and the control of checkpoints.”
“ISIL is no longer focused on conquering and holding territory. It has been forced to adapt and focus primarily on a smaller and more motivated group of individuals who remain committed to inspiring, enabling and carrying out attacks,” Vladimir Voronkov, the head of the UN Counter-Terrorism Office, said at the Security Council meeting yesterday.