ISIS has a £230 million war chest for future attacks on the West

ISIS has secret reserves of £230 million for future attacks on the West even as they face losing their last regional stronghold, UN experts warn

  • U.N report says terror group has hidden financial assets for strategic future use
  • The cash has been stashed in its last stronghold, smuggled abroad or invested 
  • The report also says up to 18,000 militants remain loyal to ISIS in Syria and Iraq 

ISIS militants have a secret war chest of up to $300 million (£230 million) which could be used to sustain its operations and fund new attacks on the West, according to a United Nations report released yesterday. 

The terror group is assessed to have ‘bulk-stored’ some of the money in its stronghold area, while the rest has been smuggled abroad or invested in legitimate businesses. 

Even if ISIS militants are forced out of their last holdout this week, the group has concealed the majority of its financial assets ‘with a strategic view to funding larger-scale attacks once the opportunity arises again,’ the report says.

Smoke from an airstrike is seen over buildings near the front line on February 10, 2019 in Bagouz, Syria. ISIS are losing geographical ground and are facing elimination on the ground, but a new U.N report claims they have stashed funds of up to $300 million (£230 million) 

The terror group is assessed to have ‘bulk-stored’ money in its stronghold area, smuggled cash abroad and even invested in legitimate businesses

A U.S-backed international coalition including the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has driven ISIS from its core areas of Mosul and Raqqa so that only a small enclave in the eastern city of Baghouz remains under its control.

Around 600 militants are left battling the coalition and U.S. President Donald Trump said they may declare victory over the terrorist organisation within days. 

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Tens of thousands of people, mostly women and children related to ISIS fighters, have fled the shrinking jihadist holdout to opposition territory, many of them claiming they were not supporters of the terror group. 

But the U.N report also warns that foreign fighters and the extremists’ dependents will still pose a threat even after the ISIS is defeated. 

The report also warns that ISIS have up to 18,000 members still in their ranks and that recycled propaganda use has increased online

Tens of thousands of people, mostly women and children related to ISIS fighters, have fled the shrinking jihadist holdout to opposition territory

‘Foreign terrorist fighters leaving the conflict zone, or prior returnees becoming active again on release from prison or for other reasons, will increase the threat,’ the report says.   

‘The handling of dependants is particularly challenging. Radicalized women and traumatized minors may also pose a serious threat,’ it continues. 

And the report notes that despite losing physical ground, ISIS still has up to 18,000 loyal members in its ranks in Syria and Iraq – including 3,000 foreign terrorist fighters. 

Although direct propaganda from ISIS has been steadily decreasing, alarmingly ‘recycled material, online messaging and implausible claims of responsibility for attacks’ have increased in the last six months.

‘Military losses have forced ISIL to relinquish the idea of ruling a geographical “caliphate” for now, but the group retains that long-term aspiration and continues to proclaim it online,’ the report says.

The report also confirmed that the group is still led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi – who has not been seen in public since 2014, and has been pronounced dead on several occasions.

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