Is ISIS the richest & most powerful terrorist organisation of all time?

Unknown but likely on both counts.

Hamas have received billions of dollars in aid for civic projects and reconstruction and used same to purchase weapons and construct defensive and offensive structures to wage war on Israel.

ISIS make millions (made millions before the drop in oil prices) per day illegally refining and selling contraband oil and oil by-products to Turkey. The illegal trade in tobacco and heroin has also been a source of large amounts of income, while nearly one billion dollars was looted from the Central Bank in Mosul when that city fell to them in 2014.

Add to that the billions from Saudi Wahhabi supporters and if they are not the richest of all time then they are in the top 5 IMHO.

Regarding their “power” – their influence and actions are global. Their campaigns international. Their recruits – cell based and lone wolf – are pervasive. And their ideology still gains traction.

The declaration of the caliphate made a universal call for Jihad beyond national and regional politics and as such created a global movement and an organisation and ideology with a reach not previously matched by any legacy terrorist organisation.

Regardless of the attitude to the declaration of the caliphate – it acts as a new departure in how radical Islam organizes and dispels with national and regional politics in favour of an over-arching unifying call to all Muslims in the context of the Mahdi and “end of days” concept.

As such its power is fundamental and has traction across all shades of Muslim opinion.

However, there are conflicting views.

Brian K. Price a twenty year and two war military veteran wrote on QUORA in response to the question that many sources do agree that ISIS is the richest terrorist organization of all time.

Here’s How The World’s Richest Terrorist Group Makes Millions Every Day

ISIS Is the World’s Richest Terror Group, But Spending Money Fast

ISIS – Annual Turnover $2 Billion – In Photos: The World’s 10 Richest Terrorist Organizations

There are many, many other sources which compare the dollar values of every terrorist organization. ISIS’s control of oil fields in eastern Syria and norther Iraq gives it unprecedented wealth.

Is it the most powerful? That’s a tougher question to answer. As far as deadliest, most sources claim that Boko Haram is deadlier:

The World’s Deadliest Terrorist Group

Boko Haram overtakes ISIS as deadliest terrorists: Study 

Though the title switches back and forth (and Boko Haram has pledged allegiance to ISIS, so there’s that…)

The 5 Deadliest Terrorist Groups on the Planet

But does highest kill count actually mean “most powerful”? Is the point of terrorism to kill people or to achieve one’s goals?

Both groups control large swaths of territory. So that could be considered a form of power and success. Al Qaeda successfully dragged the world into Afghanistan and led to the US invasion of Iraq.

These wars have cost trillions of dollars, beyond the economic down turn that occurred in the aftermath of 9/11, the Madrid bombings, and the London Underground bombings.

Financially, I think you could argue, AQ has still done the greatest amount of damage to the world. However, AQ achieved none of its goals (Brian K. Price’s answer to Did Osama bin Laden succeed in his mission?)

Achieving political goals and gaining enduring successes should be the measure of power. And in that case, it would appear that nationalist terrorist groups have been far and away far more successful than AQ or ISIS or Boko Haram are likely to be.

Their approach has left no room for compromise which means they either win everything or they lose everything. Nationalist groups were able to force their opponents to the negotiating table and to earn concessions that continue to exist well after their violent efforts. See How Successful Is Terrorism?

Terrorist groups associated with Algeria, Cyprus, and Palestine achieved their goals of mobilized populations and varying levels of independence. Other groups such as the ETA and the IRA have attained major objectives in the form of concessions from the governing powers.

So I would argue that ISIS is not the most powerful terrorist group. It has temporarily seized a considerable amount of territory but I do not expect this will last. It will be pushed back and eventually dispersed.

END.

Advertisements

Islamic State assault strategy, sleeper cells & unit structure (Mosul & Tikrit)

The following simple strategy has been used effectively in Iraq over the last 12 months by Islamic State when attacking urban targets.

1. Several small IS units consisting of 10-15 men armed with RP7 and PKP weaponry initiate the attack against several pre-chosen and well recce’d soft points – simultaneously;

2. These agile units are supported by SUV trucks with heavy guns;

3. 60 to 90 minutes after the commencement of the assault the IS units fall back suddenly in an attempt to draw the opposing units from their positions;

4. Pre-deployed and well supported mortar groups and pre-positioned individuals with RPG’s are then employed if the opposing units leave their positions in pursuit of the “withdrawing” IS units;

5. Russian trained snipers, most of whom are ex-Iraqi army (under Saddam Hussein) or former special forces, are positioned on all approaching corridors to the urban targets;

6. The IS sniper units are mainly based in the Al Anbar desert region and the areas around Mosul. Many of the IS snipers have also trained in Yemen and are highly disciplined staying in position for days using IV feeders and many wear explosive vests;

7. The approaching corridors to the target are pre-prepared with IS vehicles and 60 to 90 minutes after the first “withdrawal”, suicide bombers and booby trapped vehicles and explosive laden trucks are driven toward any units that have followed the “withdrawal” while others are driven directly at pre-determined targets;

8. Suicide bombers “playing possum” wait for opposing units to approach and detonate when signalled to do so by a spotter – for maximum effect;

9. On the first day of the attack on Mosul, IS commenced the assault with a massive C4 laden truck bomb while employing multiple simultaneous ambushes;

10. Most of the IS suicide bombers are inexperienced foreign jihadists – typically young Europeans with no previous military experience and others from Morocco, Tunisia, Libya and Algeria. Chechen jihadists are preferred for the post-assault clean up (IS lingo for atrocities). For some bizarre reason most Irish jihadists are selected for sniper units begging the question: where did they get their experience from? and why were they allowed enter Europe if they have clearly been involved in Al-Qaeda or other training camps prior to their arrival?;

11. This simple but effective strategy was first proposed and employed by high ranking ex Iraqi army officers who assisted the effort with IS sleeper cells in Mosul and Tikrit who were called into action once the assault began.

ENDS.

The Siege of Kobanî by the Islamic State (ISIL / ISIS): Situation Report (Warning: Graphic Content)

The YPG and YPJ are engaged in a fierce fight today with ISIS who have opened up a fourth front in the battle by launching attacks from the previously “safe” Turkish side of the town. It is unclear how ISIS can have been facilitated in this new strategy by a “member” of NATO, seemingly allowing ISIS launch an attack on the beleaguered town from within Turkish territory. The town and its brave defenders have unbelievably been under international political and economic embargo for three years. 

ISIS use suicide bombers to commence attacks from Turkish territory

There have been in excess of 1000 mortars rounds launched at the YPG / YPJ forces and six suicide bomb attacks in a single day. The Islamic State group claimed three successful suicide attacks in Kobani’s border crossing point, the SITE Intelligence Group reported. The group, quoting Twitter accounts linked to the militants, said the suicide attacks were carried out by a Saudi and a Turkmen, adding that one of them was driving a Humvee.  

Figure 1: YPG fighters moving between the ruins of Kobane


Al-Qaeda affiliated groups have now joined ISIS in their genocide supported by hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal funding from external state terrorists and possess tens of thousands of weapons including tanks, heavy mortars and artillery captured by ISIS in the early stages of the most recent phase of the conflict. 

Despite all of this, the highly mobile and motivated but lightly armed forces of the YPG and the YPJ in Rojava have not only resisted and held out despite facing overwhelming odds and international collaboration with ISIS but they have not been intimidated, continue to resist and shall soon succeed in liberating Kobane.

ISIS “open” new front in siege from Turkey
“ISIS used to attack the town from three sides,” Nawaf Khalil, a spokesman for Syria’s Kurdish Democratic Union Party, told the Associated Press. “Today, they are attacking from four sides.” Turkey, while previously backing the Syrian rebels fighting to topple President Bashar Assad in that country’s civil war, has been hesitant to aid the defenders of Kobane because it fears that could stoke Kurdish ambitions for an independent state.

Anger over Turkeys support of ISIS

Thousands of Kurds in Riha (Urfa) and Pirsus cities in Turkey are flooding across the Kobane border to support the resistance inside the beleaguered town. (SOURCE: Local TV Channels).

Figure 2: Kurds crossing the Turkish border to support Kobane 


Syria’s Foreign Minister said in a television interview aired Friday night that the U.S.-led coalition’s weeks of airstrikes against militants in Syria had not weakened the Islamic State group. Washington and the U.N. Security Council “should force Turkey to tighten control” of its border in order to help defeat militants, he added.

Video 1: YPG fighting ISIS in Turkey, today.

The assault began with a suicide bomb in an armoured vehicle on the border crossing between Kobanî and Turkey, said Khalil and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The video footage below (taken 29.11.2014) from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights purports to show ISIS militants firing from inside Turkish territory. Mustafa Bali, a Kobane-based activist, said by telephone that Islamic State group fighters have taken positions in grain silos on the Turkish side of the border and from there are launching attacks toward the border crossing point. 

See video below from point “01.18” point showing ISIS fighters in position firing from grain silo located inside Turkish territory. 
Video 2: ISIS firing on YPG from positions in Turkey

He added that the U.S. led coalition launched an airstrike Saturday morning on the eastern side of the town. “It is now clear that Turkey is openly cooperating with Daesh,” Bali said, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State. Later in the day, he said the situation was relatively calm on the border after a day of heavy clashes. 
Figure 3 & 4: Air strikes 29.11.14 at Kobane

On the 76th day of ISIS attacks on Kobanê, the YPG and YPJ fighters have gained control of 75-80% of the city. As the Kurdish forces advance, the ISIS gangs fire mortars at random and use snipers, but to no avail as their attacks are repulsed. Clashes are continuing on the eastern, southern and south western fronts. 

On the western front the YPG and YPJ fighters are being supported by Peshmerga and Burkan el Firat. The Islamic State group claimed to have carried out four further suicide attacks in Kobane to the south of the town. The Peshmerga are not on the front line, instead supporting the YPG/YPJ by firing mortars and katyusha rockets. 

Background on Burkan el Firat, membership & objectives

The Firat New Agency previously announced:

The Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG) and Free Syrian Army (FSA), including other armed opposition groups have formed a joint front against the Islamic State (ISIS) in the region around the Euphrates. It has been reported that that the YPG, FSA and other smaller opposition groups have come together to form a ‘joint operation room’ against the Islamic State threat in the Euphrates region. 
The name of this joint force is ‘Burkan El Firat,’ and its aim is to oust IS from the areas currently under its control. The ‘joint operation room’ declared itself in a military ceremony in Western Kurdistan, with the declaration being read by a FSA commander. 
It was declared that the forces joining the ‘Burkan El Firat’ against the gangs of El Bagdadi were as follows: Liva El Tevhid Eastern Wing, Liva El Siwar El Raka, the Shams El Shemal brigades of the Fecir El Huriya, YPG, YPJ, Seraya Cerablus, Liva Cephet El-Ekrad, Siwar Umunaa El Raka, El Kasas Army and Liva El Jihad Fi Sebilillah. 
The following was also listed in the declaration: 1. All the members who have joined ISIS under false pretences must leave the group. 2. The international community must do their part against the terrorist group ISIS. 3. All parties against ISIS must contribute physically and financially to the joint operation room. 
It was also declared that the objective of the joint operation room is to oust ISIS from all the areas currently under their control. The following areas were listed: Karakozak, Sirrin, Cerablus, Minbic and surrounding villages, Rakka and surrounding villages.Figure 5: Burkan el Firat announcement of joint front against ISIS in the Euphrates region
YPG/YPJ fighters who have repulsed attacks by ISIS gangs are continuing to advance step by step and are inflicting heavy losses on the ISIS gangs and seizing large amounts of ammunition and weapons. See below YPG and Burkan al-Firat joint forces of the FSA crossing into the Turkish side of via the Murshitpinar border gate in North Kobane, not to attack Turkish forces or occupy ‘Turkish’ soil, but to repel ISIS insurgents who were allowed by Turkey to carry out their attacks on Kobane from there. (DIHA)

Figure 6: Murshitpinar Turkish / Syria border gate in North Kobane
Statements from YPG/YPJ spokespersons

YPJ commander Zilan Kobanê said that in recent days on the eastern front in particular many points have been cleansed of ISIS gangs and large quantities of munitions seized. YPG commander Ciwan Kobanê added: “We are advancing step by step. This means that Kobanê is gradually being cleansed of the gangs.”  
Figure 7 & 8: YPG spokesman Ciwan Kobanê & YPJ Spokeswoman Zilan Kobanê
The most intense clashes on the eastern front around Municipality Street, which is now almost entirely under the control of YPG and YPJ fighters. ISIS have abandoned many positions YPJ commander Zilan Kobanê, who is fighting on the front line in the Municipality Street area, said the gangs have been run out of many areas on the eastern front in the last 3 days, adding that the enemy gangs have suffered heavy casualties. She said: “They are now resorting to sporadic sniper fire and indiscriminate mortar fire as we have broken the back of their attacks.”  
Comments from YPG commander Ciwan Kobanê
YPG commander Ciwan Kobanê added “Our comrades have demonstrated in the last 3 days that the gangs will not be able to stand up to our forces. In the last 3 weeks there have been fierce clashes around the Municipality Street area and we are advancing step by step.” He added that the liberation of the city would take time pointing out that “Urban warfare is an arduous, drawn out process. We have experience of this. Fighting is going on house to house, street to street. We are advancing steadily but slowly.”
Peshmerga call for regional unity against ISIS
In the wider debate Kurdish Peshmerga forces and their spokesman Khalil Jangi have called for unity amongst all groups and minorities battling the ISIS war criminals saying:
Figure 9: Khalil Jangi, Peshmerga Spokesman
“In this picture, you see an Assyrian mother and her three year old child. She fled from ISIS in Mosul to the city of Dohuk in the governorate of Iraq and part of Iraqi Kurdistan. The Assyrian nation must not accept the crimes committed against them by ISIS, and remain silent. All Assyrians have a duty to their people and nation to fight together against the criminal ISIS.”
 Figure 10: Assyrian mother and child fleeing from ISIS in Mosul (el-Mōṣul)
“Assyrians, Kadanians, Izadids, Syrians, Yazidis and Kurds only salvation from ISIS is to stand together. We have the same enemy. Kurdistan is the home for all nations and religions, we are all living together and look forward to peace and prosperity. We will defend our land and people against all enemies.” 
YPGH / YPJ Fighting for the future of all our children, Support Them
The Kurds of the ‪#‎YPG‬ and ‪#‎YPJ‬ are fighting for every child’s future – around the world – support them.


 
Figure 11: The tragedy of Kobane

The unspeakable tragedy of the ISIS barbarians aggression against innocence is shown above with pictures from a Syrian Kurdish refugee camp filled with children from the Kobane area in front of living quarters separated by plastic sheets at a camp in Suruc and receiving food rations, on the Turkey-Syria border.  
The realities of the conflict – ISIS dead
 
Figure 12: ISIS Dead

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: ANF / İBRAHİM ASLAN / ERSİN ÇAKSU / JAMES HUGHES / JAMIE READ / The Lions of Rojava Media Center