Al-Qaeda Sinks Roots in Mosul

By Harith Hasan for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Mosul, the capital of Ninevah province, has become one of the most important strongholds of al-Qaeda in Iraq. The city’s large area and its borders with Syria and Turkey make it of strategic value to members of the organization fighting in Iraq and Syria. Since establishing themselves in Mosul, al-Qaeda militants have managed to build intricate networks for funding, supplies and mobilization to reinforce their presence and gradually take over the city.

During the past few months, al-Qaeda has managed to multiply its internal funding sources through a broad network of tax collection from large companies, associations, businessmen and owners of small shops in Mosul. It increased the tax imposed on a variety of commercial activities and enforces its tax policies with such “penalties” as murder, abduction and bombing the homes of those who fall behind on payments.

No major or minor commercial activity can be carried out without al-Qaeda taking its share. This ranges from small-scale operations, like selling vegetables, to larger undertakings, such as services and construction projects across the province. According to Mosul residents who spoke to Al-Monitor by phone on condition of anonymity, mobile phone companies have had to pay lump sums to the organization to keep their transmission facilities up and running. Those of one company were bombed when it was late in making payments.

Government forces led by Gen. Mahdi Gharawi, commander of the province’s police, launched a campaign in 2012 against al-Qaeda’s funding. Gharawi declared Mosul to be “the main internal funder of terrorist organizations.” Al-Qaeda is thought to take in some $8 million a month from the inhabitants of Mosul, while other estimates put that figure much higher.

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