At the end of 2015
Publications Are Translated Into Eleven
At the end of 2015, the ambassador for
the European Union in Iraq, Jana Hybascova, expressed worries that European
countries might possibly be buying oil from Daesh. Adding to these suspicions,
the territorial conquests and terrorist acts conducted by the organization led a
certain number of observers to question what supports, financial and other,
Daesh was benefiting from. The decision to create a parliamentary mission was
made on December, 1st 2015 by the Conference des Presidents of the National
It was decided that this mission would focus on all the
means of the organization, since Daesh not only possesses significant material
means but also relies on very powerful propaganda.
Source : French National Assembly Report on Daesh
means (Summary). Paris, July 20, 2016.
As of February 2016, the mission was assigned the powers of a
parliamentary committee of inquiry, in accordance with article 6 of the
Ordinance n° 58-1100 on the functioning of parliamentary assemblies, dating back
to November, 17th 1958. These nonordinary powers are extremely useful as they
enabled the mission to access data from the Autorité de contrôle prudentiel et
de résolution (ACPR) and assess
how banking establishments respect their obligations in terms of the fight
against terrorist financing. The mission also used these powers to gather
information normally kept secret by the government that helped shed light on the
accusations against the cement manufacturer Lafarge.
Daech was born in a specific social, economic and political
context. It prospers today in a complex regional framework where countries
neighbouring Syria and Iraq are implicated as well as global powers. In spite of
its claims and aspirations, Daesh is never called the “Islamic State” in the
present report: it is indeed not a state but a violent and totalitarian
terrorist organization. Daesh differs from other organizations by two
characteristics: its territorial control and ambition to administer a territory
and population and its capacity to establish and spread a massive, professional,
targeted and adaptable propaganda.
Since 2015, Daesh faces a constant loss of resources, partly
in thanks to the coordinated actions of the international coalition. Its annual
budget, which may have reached up to 2 billion dollars in the past, is clearly
diminishing. The different figures should nevertheless be considered with
caution as some estimates are difficult to check and data is subject to
A self-sustaining system
At the end of 2015, the theoretical value of all assets under
Daesh’ control was estimated at more than 2 000 billion dollars. The
organization benefits from numerous diversified and flexible resources: 30 000
barrels of crude oil produced a day (compared to 11 million by the USA) which
represents an annual revenue for Daesh of 250 to 600 million dollars in 2015 -
four times less than in 2014, 350 million dollars gained from the exploitation
of gas, slightly less than 200 million dollars from the exploitation of
agricultural resources (corn, barley …) and 350 million from the productions of
phosphates and cement.
Traffickings of unequal weight
The amount of money Daesh gains from art and antiquities
trafficking is not known for certain: estimates range from a few million to
around 150 million dollars a year. Nonetheless, this kind of trafficking is of
critical importance for the French customs. France already has a robust set of
laws to fight art and antiquities trafficking. However, there is room for
improvement as numerous borders around the world are still porous, in spite of
the asserted official resolve of the different authorities to prevent such
trafficking. International cooperation could also be strengthened to this end.
It is unfortunately proven that Daesh resorts to human
trafficking along with barbaric and inhumane practices. This traffic represents
only a small portion of Daesh’ total revenue.
Lastly, no evidence supports the allegations of drug
trafficking. In any case, such traffics cannot constitute a regular and
significant source of revenue.
A pseudo “fiscal system”
Daesh claims also to have established “taxes” in their
controlled territory which are in fact mere extractions from the population.
These have amounted to 460 million dollars in 2014, reached between 800 and 800
million dollars in 2015 and probably have increased even higher in 2016. To this
effect, they are the only growing resource of the organization, illustrated by
the fact that corporal punishments are being replaced by financial penalties and
new taxes, such as on water and electricity, have been implemented at the
beginning of 2016. In other words, facing diminishing resources, Daesh uses the
population living in the territory it controls as an adjustment variable.
Limited foreign financing
There have been many fantasies regarding foreign financing in
comparison to what it really represents: about 5 million dollars per year. We
need, however, to remain cautious regarding these flows of money. First, even if
Daesh does not rely much on this method, other terrorist groups such as Jabhat
al-Nosra, the Syrian branch of Al-Qaida, depend much more on foreign donors. As
more and more money is collected in this way, and especially through social
networks, the less credibility the states of the coalition have in their fight
against terrorism financing. Lastly, it is possible that these flows will
continue developing, especially if the organization goes deeper underground.
France has taken some initiatives regarding money flows
financing terrorism. To reduce the anonymity of the different means of payment,
a cap for payments in cash or with prepaid cards was introduced. However, these
measures will only be fully efficient when, and if, adopted by a majority of
countries. Likewise, it is necessary to set up more serious controls regarding
the use of significant sums of money entering the European Union. The only
obligation that exists today is that of reporting, when entering the EU, sums
above 10 000 euros.
Daesh has under its control operational means that are
comparable to those of a motorised infantry unit. The terrorist organization
obtained most of its equipment from Iraqi and Syrian arsenals and the rest
through complementary circuits of provisioning. The weaponry used is mostly
individual (around 60 000 assault rifles, pick-ups, etc.) while
counter-improvised explosive devices and chemical weapons have also been used.
The international community should take the responsibility to set up stronger
controls of the trafficking of precursors, materials and equipment used to
produce these weapons.
Since May 2016, Daech has suffered major military setbacks,
as shown in the liberation of Fallujah on June 23rd. However, Daesh is still
very much present in Raqqa and Mosul, two cities with a Sunni majority that fear
more than anything the return and subsequent exactions of Shiite militias linked
to Iraqi forces. The cities liberated are often mined and booby-trapped by Daesh,
preventing civilians from returning immediately after liberation. Lastly, by
recently shooting down a Russian helicopter near Palmyra, Daesh has proved
capable of operating in territories that are no longer under its direct control.
It is probable that the fight against Daesh will not only
continue in an asymmetric way, but will also be extended to other areas (Libya,
Yemen, Turkey…). This calls for high vigilance.
If Daesh’ army has in the past been made of up to 35 000
fighters, this number has been reduced to approximately 12 000 fighters today.
The various intelligence services of the international
coalition have identified around 600 French nationals on the ground in the
territories controlled by Daesh, among which are around 200 women. The return of
foreign fighters and their families to their countries of origin – France but
also North-African countries such as Tunisia - must be well anticipated. The
future of children having undergone indoctrination and military training in
Syria should also be addressed.
The Mission has taken into account Daesh’ ideology and
propaganda as part of the means used by the organization.
A totalitarian ideology
Daesh is the latest known emanation of a loose Jihadist
conglomeration whose doctrine, shaped during the Cold War, is of a totalitarian
nature. Daesh uses religious references to its own benefit and puts codes and
symbols at the service of primarily political ends, that is to say the creation
of a transnational caliphate and the destruction of impious people and regimes.
In Daesh’ eschatological vision of the world, that is, of the
world close to the “end of times”, there is no room for alterity with
individuals sacrificing themselves for the cause and resorting to any kind of
violence. This leads to a simple and binary way of viewing the world and to a
process of dehumanization, both characterizing sectarian and totalitarian logics.
A targeted propaganda
Daesh’ propaganda is well organized: seven media branches are
specialized in producing and spreading visual, written and audio contents. Its
propaganda is also very professional as Daesh’ productions are sophisticated and
carefully thought out. The terrorist organization masters the use of social
networks and social codes that appeal to adolescents and young adults.
Daesh knows how to adapt both the form and the content of its
speech to the targeted audience: messages are differentiated according to the
age, sex and geographical area. Their publications are
also now translated into eleven languages. Internet service providers,
hosts of online applications as well as social networks do not seem to have
realized the level of threat posed by Daesh. It is imperative that they acquire
the effective tools to combat this threat and set up efficient teams to fight
against the proliferation of extremist content on the internet. It is not
acceptable for them to maintain a passive attitude that consists in only
removing content when reported by internet users or by the authorities. More
fundamentally, many social media and online research tools predict or push on
internet users similar content to what he or she is searching for on the
internet. The internet user can thus easily be trapped in a sphere of
self-referentiality which raises important questions.
Democratic countries are the ones that need to defend a
common, unifying and inspiring dialogue and discussion. The strongest weapon to
fight obscurantism is the use of critical judgment, the acceptance of different
opinions and the respect of everyone’s convictions. To this end, school plays a
major role in the development of open and critical minds.
What should the answers be ?
This report deliberately adopts an optimistic viewpoint.
France and the French people have the assets and qualities needed to win against
Daesh. A victory will, however, only be possible if multiple actions are
• A military action aiming at countering Daesh’ territorial expansion and at
liberating the populations under its domination;
• A fight against all sources of financing, which requires a stop all kinds of
trafficking and the dismantling of all circuits providing resources to Daesh ;
• A better oversight and follow-up of foreign fighters traveling to Syria and a
better control of the interactions between nationals and Daesh ;
• A long term action on mindsets aiming at promoting complexity, diversity and
the respect of others.
This report prescribes several very concrete actions, among
• the favoring the adoption of a United Nations resolution on the return of
foreign fighters in their country of origin;
• the updating of rules relative to the commercialization of products that can
be used to make chemical weapons or counter-improvised explosive devices;
• the strengthening of devices aiming at fighting against art trafficking;
• the setting up of better and stronger controls of the use of cash that enters
the European Union above a certain threshold;
• the defending of the mechanism consisting in lowering the minimum amount for
which prepaid cards are accepted;
• the implementation by member states of the European Union of common data bases
and of harmonized legislations.
As a conclusion, destroying Daesh’ material resources will not be enough to
bring back peace to this region of the world: a political solution is necessary.
France should defend a strict observance of the cease-fire and fight for the
stabilization of this region. France should
also be active in the working groups on the reconstruction of the Syrian and
Iraqi states set up within the international coalition. It is necessary to
ensure that no communitisation of Syrian and Iraqi institutions takes place.
France should put forward a national political project that can be concretely
implemented and that will fulfill the promises of our republican motto. The
government has started work on this, as shows the new interministerial plan on
the fight against racism and antisemitism (2015-2017). The work of Abdennour
Bidar on universal humanism is another example of the form such work can take.
Conférence des Présidents prepares the organisation of parliamentary work.
 The Autorité de contrôle
prudentiel et de résolution (ACPR) is responsible for supervising the banking
and insurance sectors in France.
French Report : Rapport d'information sur les moyens de Daech (Tome 1).