Other perks include beheading infidels, mass-murder, and raping non-Muslims.
Muhammed Jamal can understand why many want to join ISIS.
“You get paid the most, you have the most weapons, you are with the most powerful group,” said Jamal, who as a Sunni Iraqi would have little trouble joining up with the group. ISIS has openly welcomed Sunni Muslims into its self-declared “Islamic State,” stretching 12,000 square miles through Syria and Iraq. “I’m not a fighter, but if I was that is who I’d join.”
Jamal fled Mosul, Iraq’s second biggest city, when ISIS militants captured it in early June. “I left Mosul when ISIS came because I thought it would be bombings and war there and I wanted to protect my family,” said Jamal, 31, who is now sheltering with several other Sunni families near the Kurdish city of Irbil. “But now I do think about going back. I don’t agree with their position on religion, but if they have money and can give us jobs … that would be more than anyone else has given us in years.”
At nearly $400 a month, ISIS pays its fighters nearly double what other groups in the region pay — from the moderate Free Syrian Army, to militant group Hezbollah, to even the Iraqi army — according to intelligence groups.
ISIS has grown from being a small offshoot of al-Qaeda in Iraq into the wealthiest terror group in the world, with revenue streams that have grown and matured as the organization has expanded its reach. Once reliant on handouts from wealthy donors in the Gulf, it is now believed to be wholly self-sufficient, garnering millions by trading in crude oil, selling artifacts on the black market, and running racketeering and kidnapping schemes. It is believed to have built itself a total wealth of over $2 billion — far beyond what any terror group before it has managed to muster. Western intelligence agencies, once focused on donors and looted cash from Iraq banks, now believe that ISIS has created a model that will ensure that the group can remain self-sustaining billionaires. Its wealth, say experts, is almost entirely produced locally, and therefore not as vulnerable to outside influence or sanctions.
“They did not get like this by accident,” said Luay al-Khateeb, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Doha Center in Qatar and director of the Iraq Energy Institute. ISIS looked at other groups — al-Qaeda strategy of levying local taxes, Boko Haram in Nigeria’s use of local resources, and FARC in Colombia’s kidnapping of wealthy locals and foreigners — and then tried to perfect it.