How to Fight Terrorism?

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) has been making headlines recently and not in a good way. Originally being a branch of al-Qaeda, founded in 2003, it has come a long way since. In the Western media, the information about ISIS started to be more vocal after the group became a strong opposition of the Assad regime. But ISIS is not just a rebel group, some experts would argue that it is not even a terrorist group anymore, but rather an active jihadist militant group with very strong weaponry.

ISIS can be considered a threat not only because of the high number of foreign fighters (many of which with EU passports) but also because of its vast financial assets, most recently thanks to the reported seizing control of Mosul, surrounding Nineveh and Fallujah city.

According to the Iraqi intelligence, ISIS assets worth reaches up to US$2 billion, which makes it the richest jihadist group in the world.

We might not consider the financial side of the issue to be the most important, however it is highly improbable that ISIS would gain so much power without its significant wealth. There are islamist extremist who join ISIS for the ‘greater good’, nevertheless most of the fighters are people with either no education or zero opportunities for whom joining ISIS can provide at least provisional improvement of their situation. According to British blogger Brown Moses, with $425 million, ISIS could recruit and pay 60,000 fighters around $600 a month for a year.

All these financial circumstances, especially in a situation when Iraqi prime minister does not have enough confidence and ISIS declared captured areas of Syria and Iraq an Islamic state, are becoming more and more important.

Fighting terrorism is one thing, which has not always proved to be working efficiently. Even though the military defence is essential we might need to start combating terrorism from completely different perspective. As mentioned earlier, ISIS would have never gained so much power if it did not have access to such a vast financial assets.

It has been widely reported that ISIS (which just last week established Islamic caliphate in Iraq) receives most of its financial support from private donors in Gulf states, particularly from Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

It makes sense that we hardly hear about who exactly fund these organisations but should not that change? Especially groups like ISIS cannot possibly be defeated by weapons only. Combating terrorism needs to be focused on the main sources of funding and bringing donors to justice.

The problem is that this is much easier said than done. World leaders ought to overcome the hypocrisy and stop overlooking this type of crime committed in the Gulf states. It might probably be tough on diplomacy and bring some tension but it is well worthy in a long run. Fighting terrorism with weapons is a necessary solution in a short-run but it is not sustainable in the future. There needs to be a clear line drawn to recognise funding of terrorism as a crime equally everywhere in the world. It is not an easy way but almost certainly an unavoidable one.