Al Qaeda’s splinter group, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham took control of Mosul on Tuesday. Mosul is a northern Iraqi city on the Tigris River. ISIS has invaded much of northern Iraq over the last year, getting as close to Baghdad as Fallujah. As AP describes, Mosul is more important to the state of Iraq than Fallujah for example:
“The city and surrounding Ninevah province, which is on the doorstep of Iraq’s relatively prosperous Kurdish region, are a major export route for Iraqi oil and a gateway to Syria.
The “gateway to Syria” comment is most interesting. Al Qaeda rebels in Syria have received backing from the US in their fight against Assad. Not surprisingly, weapons and fighters from this “front” have moved freely between eastern Syria and northwestern Iraq. US intervention in the Syrian conflict has a direct effect on the success of ISIS’s fight in Iraq. Photos received by media outlets show that captured Humvees are popping up in Syria, where ISIS is also fighting.
At the same time, the US has supplied the Iraq government with arms over the last year to fight ISIS. Drones, helicopters and conventional arms have been sold so far. The same AP report stated that US black hawk helicopters sold to the Iraqi government were seized by ISIS at the Mosul airport.
In an even more upsetting development, the Iraq central bank branch in Mosul was seized. The bank contained 500 billion Iraqi dinars, or $429 million dollars.This makes ISIS (and in essence Al Qaeda) the wealthiest terrorist group in the world. The following chart lists the (richest terror factions in the world as of 2011):
Richest Terror Factions in the World (as of 2011)
1) Taliban – $70m – $400m
2) Hezbollah $200m – $500m ($120m from Iran)
3) Farc – $80m – $350m
4) Hamas – $70m
5) Al-Shabaab – $70m – 100m
Source: Money Jihad
Below is a map from ZeroHedge showing ISIS controlled areas of Iraq: