Al Qaeda in Iraq tightening economic grip on Mosul

Published May 3rd, 2011 - 06:53 GMT

On November 11, 2005, the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), an organization that includes al-Qaeda and other militant groups, announced that it had taken over Mosul. Since that time, the ISI has been extorting money from the local community. Contractor Ahmad al-Taei gave terrorists most of his wealth in exchange for his two kidnapped children, he told a local newspaper.

“Since 2005, the ISI al-Qaeda organization has allowed us to work. But only on the condition that they get a percentage of each project’s budget,” one contractor was quoted as saying.

Another contractor reported, “at the time, the percentage being paid to the [ISI] members was 10 percent on each project.”

In May 2008, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki launched a military campaign, called "Operation Umm al-Rabiain", to push the ISI out of Mosul.  However, the group simply went underground and changed their tactics. “Instead of targeting homes and businesses with explosive devices, al-Qaeda started kidnapping and assassinating,” a third contractor explained.

Al-Qaeda is so involved in government departments that it is subject to intimate details about the construction projects being handed out, including the budgets. According to local businessmen, al-Qaeda decreased their cut of the projects from 10 percent to 6 percent because they know the contractors could not afford to pay such high percentages.

ISI extortion is conducted at all levels, from projects that are being implemented inside the University of Mosul, to provincial government departments, to fruit and vegetable sellers. Abdallah Ghadeer, a seller of fruits and vegetables reports that the “ISI takes between US$100 and US$200 for every big truck of fruit and vegetables that comes in from Syria, Turkey or Iran.” 

Abdul-Rahim al-Shammari, Head of the Security and Defence Committee at the Ninawa provincial council admitted that, “this phenomenon has become widespread and we have received numerous complaints from citizens who have been blackmailed by terrorists.” Source:

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