ISIS is staging a religious war? The fight is for the benefit of Allah? Think again. Or more specifically, think about cold, hard cash, oil, and the running cost of mercenary fighters.
According to an article by the Business Insider, the concerted efforts by the West to strike at the source of ISIS’s wealth – hitting oil refineries and tankers as well as banks and buildings that hold hard cash – have led to several factions having their pay cut significantly, in some places up to half, as well as some places not having received salaries at all.
Unsurprisingly, this has led to infighting and although this is certainly not new to ISIS, the infighting has increased in recent times and is sweeping through every layer of the organisation.
The salary cuts specifically appear “to have significantly hit the organisation’s morale,” according to Charles Lister, a resident fellow at the Middle East Institute.
“There are more and more frequent reports … of infighting, armed clashes breaking out in the middle of the night in places like Raqqa between rival factions,” Lister said on Friday during a panel discussion in Washington, DC, referring to ISIS’s de-facto capital in Syria.
“These are all indications of a significant drop in morale and a decrease in internal cohesion. And the cohesion argument was always something that analysts like myself always said was one of ISIS’ strongest strengths,” he said.
Part of what has made ISIS’s message so potent is the money that has come along with it — which is said to be a major factor in ISIS’s recruiting success. For locals in war-torn Syria especially, ISIS has been able to offer more money than people could hope to make elsewhere.
But the salary cuts have strained the loyalties of fighters to the group.
So the next time you’re tempted to cross the road just because you have caught sight of a woman in a burqa or feel the urge to make a sweeping statement about terrorism and Muslims or even Syrian refugees, remember that for a lot of the people in that part of the world, war is just a job. It’s about profits, losses and feeding your family.
Abu Sara, a 33-year-old engineer from Iraq, told The Post that ISIS members are becoming disillusioned.
“Their members are getting quite angry. Either they are not getting salaries or getting much less than they used to earn,” Sara said. “All of the people I am in contact with want to escape, but they don’t know how.”
Some fighters “throw down their weapons and mingle with the civilians” in battle, according to Sara.
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