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calendar   Friday - September 05, 2014

So Junior Varsity

ISIS: So “JV” That They Already Have Tax Collectors

IRBIL, Iraq — The self-styled Islamic State has consolidated its control over much of the desert in eastern Syria and western Iraq by following a rule that’s governed in that austere region for a millennium: Don’t interfere with the ability of local Sunni Muslim tribes to make a living through trade.

Now that the Islamic State controls virtually all of central and northern Iraq, as well as most of eastern Syria and Iraq’s western Anbar province, it’s making sure nothing gets in the way of the ability of tribal businessmen continuing to make use of the main trade arteries that connect Jordan and Syria with Baghdad.

It’s also found a new source of revenue in the effort: tax collections on the goods, which range from bootleg gasoline to livestock and even consumer goods that stock Baghdad’s markets.

Not only does the Islamic State offer protection from bandits, but its tax collectors also provide traders with paperwork that shows they’ve paid Islamic State taxes as well as counterfeit government tax receipts that truckers can show to Iraqi army checkpoints, which allow them to pass without further payments.

The system is in place at the Waleed Crossing, which links Jordan to Iraq, and the Tanif Crossing, which links Iraq to the Syrian capital of Damascus as well as the Islamic State-controlled Syrian cities of Deir el Zour and Raqqa, according to truckers and merchants who described the process to McClatchy.

Their accounts of an efficient quasi-government structure fit with the portrait painted of the Islamic State as an organization with a businesslike penchant for record-keeping and systems that’s made it perhaps the wealthiest terrorist group the world has ever known.

The Iraqi army apparently accepts the receipt knowing full well that the taxes, invoiced on a fake government document, went instead to the Islamic State.

Since it declared a caliphate in late June in the area it controls _ a region as large as Jordan with a population of at least 6 million _ the Islamic State has felt comfortable increasing the taxes, from $300 for a load of foodstuffs and $400 for a load of electronics to a flat $800 per truck, said Mahmoud Murdi Hammad, 52, a driver from Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province.

“The Islamic State reaps thousands of dollars every day as a result of taxes from us truck drivers,” he said. “But to keep good relations with the tribes who control the routes, the Islamic State ensures the proper paperwork so the merchants pay the taxes, not us. We do not lose anything.”

Doesn’t sound like ISIS is going anywhere soon. File this one under “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss”.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 09/05/2014 at 01:57 PM   
Filed Under: • IraqTerrorists •  
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