The correspondent of “Novaya Gazeta” Irek Murtazin has published an investigation in the oil infrastructure of Islamic State (IS), which functions just fine, despite the bombings, and delivers oil to Syria and Turkey. This is a translation from Russian of the article entitled “Pipe Smell”.
We should not be surprised if it emerges in coming days that the board computers of jet fighters and bombers in Syria contain details about the pumping stations that support pressure in the pipelines delivering the oil of the terrorist organization IS (banned on the territory of the Russian Federation), uploaded even before the data on the locations of the terrorist chiefs. Sources of “Novaya” claim that one of the issues that will be raised during the meeting between the Presidents of Russia and the U.S. is blocking the terrorists’ financing channels. And Russia is ready to strike the sites of their oil infrastructure.
IS fighters are ruthless. They hold public executions of innocent people; sell the cultural heritage of entire countries on the black market and revel in their impunity, destroying priceless historical sites. “There is nothing sacred” is their most appropriate characteristic. But, it turns out that terrorists still have a sanctuary – this is the oil pipe.
The theory of the partisan movement, the foundations of which were laid down in Moscow in 1942, states that it feeds from two main sources: expanding social support and sustainable funding (in the Soviet variant – logistic supply). The consistent and persistent reduction of the financial and social base of terrorism is the main sign of a systematic approach to solving the problem. Popular ideas for the salvaging power of hit points and carpet bombing speak more of a lack of professionalism.
As early as September 2014, in a report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament, the European Union (EU) Ambassador to Iraq, Jana Hybášková, said that “some EU Member States are buying oil from IS fighters”. She did not name concrete countries and intermediaries, but her statement was interpreted as serious criticism as the UN Security Council had issued a statement a month and a half earlier, on July 29, about the inadmissibility of oil trade with terrorist organizations operating on the territory of Syria and Iraq.
The central idea of the statement was that any form of oil trade with IS fighters is illegal; will be treated as financial support for terrorists and could lead to the introduction of sanctions.
The press added details. German DWN and Spanish La Republica almost synchronously published stories that the government of the Kurdish provinces in northern Iraq and the Turkish special services are well aware of the illegal supply of oil from the territories controlled by IS.
The income of terrorists amounts to one billion dollars
These events drew the attention of FATF (Financial Action Task Force – Inter-governmental body developing and promoting policies to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, set up in 1989 by the countries of the “Big Seven”. Russia is represented in this organization by Rosfinmonitoring – IM), which began working on a report on the sources of funding and making recommendations for stopping the cash flow to IS. The first results of this work were published in January 2015. FATF experts estimated that the annual income of the terrorist organization is no less than a billion dollars. Oil and oil products hold a lion’s share of these revenues.
IS managed to conquer dozens of oil fields on the territory of Syria and Iraq. Among them are the areas rich in hydrocarbons – al-Omar, Raqqa, Deir ez-Zor, Ash-Shaer. According to the assessment of the consulting firm IHS
The total volume of the extraction capacity of IS reaches 350,000 barrels of oil a day
Furthermore, the oil pipeline from Iraq’s Kirkuk to the Turkish port of Ceyhan and ISLP, which connects the Iraqi fields with the Lebanese port of Said, with a branch to the Syrian port Banya also proved to be controlled by IS. Media repeatedly reported that ISLP has been destroyed in 2003 as a result of а US Air Force bombing in order to cause an economic blockade of the regime of Saddam Hussein, and that it is not in operation. Incidentally, US aircraft attacked only the Iraqi part of the ISLP pipeline. Pipes and pumping stations, securing the necessary pressure for transportation on the territory of Syria and Lebanon, have always been functional.
The oil pipelines from the Syrian oil fields that are now controlled by IS have long been connected to ISLP.
In August, “Novaya” received information that Russians, who have returned from Syria and were charged with fighting for IS, had testified during interrogations that the pumping stations and oil pipes (95% of which are underground) are strongly guarded by terrorists. Moreover, the pumping stations are in operation, which shows that oil is being transported.
We started to look for confirmation of the information that pipelines are functional and are delivering oil to Turkey and to the territory of Syria controlled by government troops. Satellite images found pumping stations on the territory controlled by IS. These facilities are not at all damaged by the bombings of coalition forces that began in September last year.
Our sources also confirmed oil deliveries through the pipeline controlled by terrorists. By the way, information on the supply of oil to the Turkish port of Ceyhan had already leaked. In particular, there were reports about tankers allegedly rented by the company Palmali Shipping & Agency JSC, belonging to Turkish-Azeri billionaire Mubariz Gurbanoglu.
Western media claimed that IS are trading oil through the intermediation of Iraqi Kurdistan. British journalist Nafis Ahmed came up with direct allegations that members of the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government and the authorities of Turkey and the United States, are turning a blind eye to IS oil sales on the black market.
Intelligence services around the world know about all this
It is reliably known that even now, when the main Syrian fields are controlled by terrorists, Syria does not feel a deficit of energy resources. Moreover, oil is sufficient not only for the country, but also for export, particularly to China. This indirectly confirms that Syria buys oil from IS. This lead was confirmed by our experts in the oil industry who reported on condition of anonymity that without buying oil from IS, Syria could not ensure the uninterrupted operation of its oil refining plants, let alone set aside oil for export.
All this aligns badly with the statement of the Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence of the United States Department of the Treasury , David Cohen that his government is trying to find out who exactly is the intermediary in the sale of oil that it monitors very carefully and who exactly is involved in smuggling IS oil.
Twenty five to 60 jets regularly fly simultaneously for bombings with aircraft maintenance tanks from US aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean. However, oil continues to flow through the pipes. Maybe this is a feasible task even for the limited Russian forces in Syria? After all, this is a much more intelligible solution than organizing a ground operation.
Why the oil infrastructure of the terrorists isn’t seriously affected? So far, world leaders are keeping silent because of some not completely clear reasons of political correctness. But is correctness appropriate when the disastrous expansion of IS has already led to a huge wave of Syrian refugees in Europe?
Irek Murtazin – special correspondent of “Novaya Gazeta”
Bivol asks: Is it appropriate to keep silent about the smuggling of cigarettes in the region by the company of controversial Bulgarian lawmaker Delyan Peevski? Turkish Customs and Turkey’s Financial Crime Investigation Board (MASAK) recently reported that this smuggling takes place through the Kurdish provinces of northern Iraq and is executed by the same persons who were exposed in a series of investigations (see here, here and here) in the ownership of the Bulgarian tobacco holding. What else can finance the supply of cigarettes, except income from oil smuggling? Obviously, the cigarette smuggling is the “second cycle” of money laundering and of heaping profits. But it is naive to believe that such a large-scale smuggling (70% of illegal cigarettes in Turkey came from Bulgartabac, while there is no credible data about other countries in the region) would be possible without the cover-up from the highest place in Bulgaria. And what exact fight against backstage rule and corruption are Western ambassadors constantly talking about when their very-well informed intelligence services and law enforcement are not even lifting a finger to cut off the channels of # WHO and to shed light on his political patrons?
This post is also available in: Bulgarian