Remember when we viewed ISIS as some giant force of evil, rather than a glorified fraternity for some insecure idealists looking for a place to fit in?
BEIRUT (AP) — Faced with a cash shortage in its so-called caliphate, the Islamic State group has slashed salaries across the region, asked Raqqa residents to pay utility bills in black market American dollars, and is now releasing detainees for a price of $500 a person. The extremists who once bragged about minting their own currency are having a hard time meeting expenses, thanks to coalition airstrikes and other measures that have eroded millions from their finances since last fall. Having built up loyalty among militants with good salaries and honeymoon and baby bonuses, the group has stopped providing even the smaller perks: free energy drinks and Snickers bars.
Necessities are dwindling in its urban centers, leading to shortages and widespread inflation, according to exiles and those still suffering under its rule. Interviews gathered over several weeks included three exiles with networks of family and acquaintances still in the group’s stronghold in Raqqa, residents in Mosul, and analysts who say IS is turning to alternative funding streams, including in Libya.
In Raqqa, the group’s stronghold in Syria, salaries have been halved since December, electricity is rationed, and prices for basics are spiraling out of reach, according to people exiled from the city.
“Not just the militants. Any civil servant, from the courts to the schools, they cut their salary by 50 percent,” said a Raqqa activist now living in the Turkish city of Gaziantep, who remains in close contact with his native city. But that apparently wasn’t enough close the gap for a group that needs money to replace weapons lost in airstrikes and battles, and pays its fighters first and foremost. Those two expenses account for two-thirds of its budget, according to an estimate by Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, a researcher with the Middle East Forum who sources Islamic State documents.
Remember when ISIS was a real thing? When we saw videos of these losers climbing across monkey bars like that was some actual frightening shit? When we looked at them as some giant force of evil rather than a glorified fraternity for some insecure idealists looking for a place to fit in? Sure they’ve taken a lot of innocent lives, and that’s nothing to overlook. But with each passing day I think of ISIS less as a global threat and more as a group of pathetic gullible pussies.
A group of pathetic gullible pussies that’s now going broke. Selling off detainees like a junkie in need of a fix. Taking away free snacks and free coffee like a midlevel tech sales company doing cutbacks. How am I supposed to take these guys seriously anymore? Sure, the idea of ISIS is still terrifying. But when you realize these broke motherfuckers are like two more bombings away from declaring bankruptcy, it’s hard to muster up that fear.
Get your paper up and then we’ll start living in fear again, ISIS. But right now, it’s hard to be scared of a bunch of broke little fuckboys who can’t even buy an Arizona at the Bodega.