A British parliamentary report released on Tuesday has concluded there is “historical evidence” the Islamic State (IS) group received funding from within Arab Gulf states.
In evidence submitted to the foreign affairs select committee, the Ministry of Defence said: “[There] is historical evidence of financial donations to Daesh [IS] from within Gulf states. Furthermore, it is understood that family donations are being made to Daesh, through the unregulated Alternative Value Transfer Systems (AVTS).”
AVTS include ways of globally transferring money that includes little information about the individuals involved in the transaction – examples include the open source online currency Bitcoin.
The MoD cited as evidence an incident in September 2014 when an IS official was sanctioned by the US Treasury Department after receiving a $2m donation “emanating from the Gulf”.
The MoD also said in its evidence that private donations to IS are “minimal” compared to its other revenue streams, which include oil and taxation.
The committee said in an assessment of IS finances that Britain should be able to “ask hard questions of close friends” when discussing how donations have reached the Syria-Iraq based militant group.
The report concluded that IS has been put under severe financial pressure after a sustained international campaign that has forced the group to turn to “gangsterism and protection rackets” for money.
The report argued that plunging oil prices and air strikes on IS in Syria and Iraq have reduced the group’s ability to operate, however, the most controversial part is undoubtedly the section on donations to IS.
While the government told the committee that it had no evidence any country had provided funding to IS as a “matter of policy,” concerns were raised in the report about how Gulf states responded to the group’s initial rise to prominence, before and around the time of its seizing of the Iraqi …