The Islamic State is far from bankrupt. The group may have lost the majority of its territory, but it likely anticipated this eventuality and prepared financially. The group is reported to have stashed millions across the region through investments in companies in Iraq, the purchase of gold in Turkey, and the transfer of millions to its affiliates. Iraqi experts estimate that the group managed to transfer around $400 million from Iraq/Syria. The funds were moved primarily through the hawala network, with the hawaladars using WhatsApp to communicate with each other.
It comes as no surprise that the Islamic State managed to prepare for its eventual downfall financially – the group demonstrated excellent financial management (for a terrorist group), and certainly had the ability to plan long-term. The destinations of funds described in this report, however, are likely just the tip of the iceberg. Where else might the group have sent funds in advance of their defeat, and in anticipation of a long terrorism campaign?