In a bloody see-saw battle for control of Iraq’s biggest oil refinery at Baiji, halfway between Baghdad and Mosul, the insurgents worked with the families of employees there to broker a cease-fire — so the workers could be safely evacuated.
It was no humanitarian gesture. “They want them to run the refinery when the fighting is over,” one local official said, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear ISIS would kill him.
Their extortion rackets in Mosul netted as much as $8 million a month, according to Gen. Mahdi Gharawi, until recently the Nineveh Province police commander, in an interview with Niqash, an Arabic language news website. And that was even before they took over. Once in charge, they typically levy “taxes,” which are just as lucrative. So-called road taxes of $200 on trucks are collected all over northern Iraq to allow them safe passage. The Iraqi government claims the insurgents are now levying a “tax” on Christians in Mosul, who were a significant minority there, to avoid being crucified.
Even a cellphone app that helped ISIS propel its Twitter feed to the top of the jihadi charts, had advertising embedded in it.