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Islamic State seeks crisis manager to save ailing oil revenues - report

Oil pump jacks pump oil in Al-Jbessa oil field in Al-Shaddadeh town of Al-Hasakah, Syria, currently controlled by Islamic State (Reuters / Stringer)

The leadership of the Islamic State is headhunting for “ideologically suitable” oil industry professionals to manage oil fields and refineries the terrorist organization has hijacked in Iraq and Syria.

The militants of the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) that captured Deir ez-Zor oil fields in Syria in 2012, and added the Ajeel and Hamrin oil fields in Iraq in 2014, propose a competitive salary for those daredevils who dare to venture to the territory they control and get the job done.

“They are trying to recruit skilled professionals who are ideologically suitable,” Robin Mills, at Manaar Energy, a consultancy firm in Dubai, told The Times. “The money is good but it’s not that good. A Western oil exec posted to Iraq right now, let alone working for ISIS, would expect to earn a lot more than that.”

The right applicant with the rare combination of oilman technical chops and devotion to the global jihad cause could expect an annual income running into six figures. That is, if he satisfies the employer and survives the warfare being waged on the Islamic State by the US-led anti-IS international coalition.

The most promising vacancy proposed by the Islamic State at the moment is allegedly the position of Refineries Manager, with $225,000 a year income.

“With each round of fighting, more staff drift away,” officials at Iraq’s North Oil Company told The Times.

The company has been losing facilities to both the Islamic State and to the Kurds. “Initially they [the Islamic State] coerced staff, threatening to kill their families. Now they’re offering the carrot instead,” the North Oil Company was quoted as saying.

AFP Photo / HO / Youtube

The oil industry specialists are being recruited in Iraq’s Kurdish region and North African countries, such as Libya devastated by Western aggression and civil war.

In September, according to US intelligence, the Islamic State gained millions by selling oil at discount prices of about $25 to $60 per barrel, while normally the same amount of oil costs around $100. The extremist group’s total profits exceeded $3 million a day, which made them richer than any other terror group in history.

US and allied strikes on IS-controlled oil fields and tanker trucks used for transportation of the illegaloil have dented the militant group’s income. It appears they are now seeking some sort of a new business plan to fatten profits. However, Washington is also elaborating means to undermine IS finances.

Because the Islamic State’s illegal hydrocarbon business is effectively operating outside the formal economy, it’s hard to track, as oil is being sold to countries bordering IS-controlled territory and later re-sold ‘whitewashed.’

“But at some point, that oil is acquired by someone who operates in the legitimate economy and who makes use of the financial system. He has a bank account. His business may be financed, his trucks may be insured, his facilities may be licensed,” said David S. Cohen, the Treasury Department undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence responsible for monitoring Islamic State finances, as quoted by The Huffington Post.

Cohen is full of confidence that it is possible to “cut them off from the US financial system and freeze their assets,” as well as “make it very difficult for them to find a bank anywhere that will touch their money or process their transactions.”

Cohen said the final goal of the Obama administration is to “financially isolate” the Islamic State and other terrorist groups, but the effort will take time.

“We have no silver bullet, no secret weapon to empty ISIL’s coffers overnight,” said the Treasury Department undersecretary. “This will be a sustained fight, and we are in the early stages.”


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