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A micro-industry for fuel refinament has grown up around the desert town of Al Mansura east of Al Raqqah, the capital of ISIS.
Small stills burn oil that is trucked in by the barrel load from the oil fields of Al Hasakah.
Each still can process about a thousand litres of crude a day intogas and diesel.
Interviews with Iraqi, Kurdish, European, Syrian and American government officials, analysts and intelligence agents sketch a portrait of ISIS’s robust, sprawling, and efficient financial operation.
The terrorist group relies on a relatively complex system to manage its far-reaching networks.
They are believed to control hundreds of wells, an important source of income for ISIS and depriving Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government of a major source of income.
So how can ISIS, cut off from the rest of the world by financial and trade sanctions, and under daily aerial and land bombardment by some of the richest countries in the world, afford to maintain a well-armed military and pay other bills?
Its currencies of choice—cash, crude oil and contraband—allow it to operate outside of legitimate banking channels.Turkey’s southern corridor, Iraq’s northwestern corridor and Syria’s northeastern corridor are key weak spots, well away from the prying eyes of outside investigators.