Iraq Bombings: follow the money
March 20, 2013 by Bruce Wallace, 121Contact
ISI, the military wing of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) is bragging about the innocent civilians it has killed on March 19, 2013. The coordinated attacks took the lives of over 60 people, injured many more, and left Iraqis exhausted from the seemingly never ending trauma of terrorism. They released a statement in which they claim the right to kill by virtue of these being revenge attacks in support of the Sunni prisoners in Maliki’s Shi’ite jails. But self-justification is not enough to nourish a terrorist organization. It takes cash.
It takes a lot of money to coordinate and execute large scale murder. Supplies, including the cars used as bomb delivery systems, cost money. Purchase or rental of houses used to manufacture explosives is expensive. The group members take salaries. The families of the suicide killers are probably compensated also. Media expenses also mount up. It’s not cheap.
Where does AQI get the money? Prior to the deaths of Zarqawi and bin Laden there was a smooth flow of cash. We were unable to find reliable analyses of the impact of their deaths on funding. Other analyses, going back as far as documents captured in Anbar in 2006, reveal a complex and sometime lucrative chain of funding that continues to today.
Research by RAND National Defense Research Institute in late 2010 showed that more than 50% of the funds came from selling stolen goods, including construction equipment, generators, and electrical cables. Reuters has reported that ISI runs an extensive racketeering network in the city of Mosul, worth millions of dollars.
Islamic charities, wealthy individual donors, and suspected injections of cash from Iran (according to documents confiscated in 2006 from Iranian Revolutionary Guards) provide support, presumably to aid in the destabilization of Iraq.
Robbery and extortion also help with expenses. Some actions are reminiscent of Mafia tactics like burning a bus and then calling the owner of the bus company and demanding a $20,000 payment to head off the burning of the rest of his buses.
Evidently Iraq’s current regime is too weak to have an impact on AQI’s funding. The Iraqis will have to rise to the task of installing a more powerful, just, and honest government for this to occur. That’s asking a lot of a people ravaged by almost 40 years of steady sanctions and conflict.
Unfortunately that’s the only way. Only Iraqis can fix Iraq.