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Forget the printing press. In readying for the rollout of Islamic State’s new money, goldsmiths and silver smelters have been toiling away.
The jihadist group on Saturday touted “the return of the gold dinar” in an hour-long video issued by its media wing, al Hayat. Islamic State’s policy-making Shura Council last year tasked its Beit al Mal, or treasury, with minting the coins, which come in several denominations made of gold, silver and copper.
The currency is meant to break the shackles of “the capitalist financial system of enslavement, underpinned by a piece of paper called the Federal Reserve dollar note,” the group said in the video. It didn’t explain where the coins were being minted, nor how they’ll be distributed or replace currencies circulating in the territory the group occupies in parts of Iraq and Syria.
Islamic State first announced its intention to issue its own money in November, five months after it seized the northern Iraqi city of Mosul and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced a caliphate. The move was seen by analysts as part of the group’s efforts to build the institutions of a functioning state.
The jihadists have amassed a war chest of millions of dollars, partly through collecting taxes, and by seizing oil refineries. Bank and jewelry store robberies, extortion, smuggling and kidnapping for ransom are other important sources of revenue for the group, which metes out brutal punishment to anyone who opposes its rule, including beheadings and crucifixions.
Baghdad-based economist Basim Jameel said the announcement is an attempt to boost the morale of Islamic State fighters, who have suffered battlefield setbacks in recent months, including the loss of Tikrit in March.
The group said its 21-carat 1-dinar coin weighs 4.25 grams, while the 21-carat five-dinar coin weighs double that. Three dominations of silver dirhams and two of copper coins were minted for smaller transactions, it said.
Each coin bears an inscription that reads, “The Islamic State, a caliphate based on the doctrine of prophecy.” The 1-dinar coin also shows seven stalks of wheat, which the group said is meant to represent “the blessing of spending in the path of Allah.” The five-dinar coin bears the image of a map of the world.