Al-Qaeda Ups Mafia-Style Extortion in Mosul

Another aspect of this was the issue of so-called “phantom generators”. The privately owned diesel-fuelled generators were able to claim government-subsidized fuel so that they could keep the city powered up. But, as the employee of one of the oil distribution companies, told NIQASH, “there are about one thousand phantom generators from which Al Qaeda takes a share of the fuel in one way or another.”

Although the Ninawa authorities had discussed how to try and put an end to the phantom generator schemes many times, so far nothing concrete had happened. The only way out would be a regular, unbroken supply of electricity – that’s what would put Al Qaeda out of this business, the employee explained.

That seems unlikely. Al Qaeda also continues to cream off the top of regional developmental projects being supervised by the local authorities and they’ve also started to prevent Iraqi Christians from buying or selling land in Mosul.

Saeed also had some idea as to why the terror tax was going up. He points out that Al Qaeda had been financing itself by controlling the province’s black market in fuel. There had been an ongoing shortage of fuel in Ninawa and this had driven up prices, Saeed explains. “But when the fuel wasn’t in such short supply anymore, Al Qaeda lost some of its most significant funding here. So they stepped up on extorting and threatening locals to compensate for that.”

And all this is still happening, despite the fact that the province of Ninawa has around 40,000 members of security forces deployed around it. Security is extremely tight here, with many checkpoints, blast barriers and segregated neighbourhoods.

Mosul has long been a flashpoint for the different ethnic and sectarian conflicts in Iraq, and it has also been known as Al Qaeda’s base in Iraq. As Middle Eastern news website, Al Monitor, notes, “on the one hand, the Sunni majority in Mosul considers the state security forces a tool of the Shiite-dominated government and therefore does not trust them. On the other hand, Mosul residents fear Al Qaeda taking revenge on their families or against them personally if they cooperate with the security forces.” Which doubtless makes it hard for security forces to do any kind of effective job here.

Comments are closed.