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An Economic Analysis of the Financial Records of al-Qa'ida in Iraq

An Economic Analysis of the Financial Records of al-Qa'ida in Iraq

Benjamin Bahney
Howard J. Shatz
Carroll Ganier
Renny McPherson
Barbara Sude
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 114
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  • Book Info
    An Economic Analysis of the Financial Records of al-Qa'ida in Iraq
    Book Description:

    This monograph analyzes the finances of the militant group al-Qa'ida in Iraq in Anbar province during 2005 and 2006, at the peak of the group's power and influence. The authors draw on captured financial documents that give details on the daily financial transactions of one specific sector within Anbar province and of the financial transactions of the AQI provincial administration.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-5162-2
    Subjects: Economics, History, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xix-xx)
  8. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  9. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    Without exception, terrorist and insurgent groups are economic actors: They need to mobilize resources to conduct operations.¹ The close of the Cold War brought about a “new” version of terrorism. This contemporary version was driven by both the decline in state sponsorship of terrorist groups and the rapid emergence of globalization, leading groups toward increased independence from states and financial selfsufficiency.² Since then, both policymakers and academics have largely conflated terrorist and insurgent groups, both of which we term “militant groups.” As a result, the study of how militant groups fund themselves now falls under the rubric of “terrorist financing.”...

  10. CHAPTER TWO AQI and the Political and Economic Environment in Anbar Province
    (pp. 11-28)

    Our data span the period when AQI reached the zenith of its power, as well as the period when the political situation rapidly turned against the group and dramatic changes took place in the security environment in Anbar. This chapter provides a thorough description of AQI and its political and economic environment to put our analysis and assessments of the group’s financial data in broader context.

    We provide a brief description of Anbar province to place the study in physical space. We then provide a brief history of AQI to describe the group’s goals, its membership, and its relationship with...

  11. CHAPTER THREE Auditing al-Qa’ida in Iraq
    (pp. 29-44)

    Our analysis is based on two novel data sets relating to the administration of AQI in Anbar province in 2006. The first set of documents is referred to as the “Travelstar” documents. Awakening forces found these when they raided the residence of Ala Daham Hanush in Julaybah, Iraq, on March 15, 2007 (see Figure A.1 in Appendix A).¹ The hard drive of Hanush’s computer contained the documentation of AQI’s provincial administration of Anbar province from 2005 through the end of 2006. This unit of the organization reviewed and regulated the activities of AQI in its different geographic sectors within Anbar...

  12. CHAPTER FOUR The Economics of AQI’s Compensation
    (pp. 45-56)

    AQI’s financial ledgers provide a unique opportunity to analyze the economics of a contemporary militant group, focusing on individual compensation and on the relationship between the group’s expenditures and attacks. In this chapter, we measure the relative economic benefits of being an AQI member by comparing AQI members’ salaries to reported income levels of Anbari households from available survey data. We then compare the risk of death that prospective AQI members faced with the risk of death for members of the broader Anbari population to explore whether AQI’s compensation reflected this risk in a purely economic sense. In the next...

  13. CHAPTER FIVE The Flow of Expenditures and the Pace of Attacks
    (pp. 57-72)

    Many insurgency theorists, military operators, and intelligence officials have posited that the financing of insurgent groups is pivotal for sustaining their operations, and thus their financial systems should be key targets in operations by counterinsurgents. The wide acceptance of this principle led the U.S. National Security Council in 2005 to create the Iraq Threat Finance Cell, a joint Department of Defense and Department of the Treasury group whose primary mission was to increase the quality and availability of intelligence information on insurgencyrelated financial issues.

    Furthermore, there is a wide-ranging acceptance across the U.S. government that using intelligence to follow the...

  14. CHAPTER SIX Implications
    (pp. 73-78)

    The data in these sets of documents reveal the practical, day-to-day financial activity of an al-Qa‘ida–affiliated group at the height of its power in a specific place—Anbar province, Iraq—and a specific time—2005 and 2006. Our findings expose patterns of behavior that Iraqi and U.S. counterterrorism authorities may be able to exploit against AQI and other insurgent groups. Although our findings do not necessarily apply to the broader range of salafi jihadist militant groups or even to al-Qa‘ida as a whole, the data provide a unique look inside a radical militant organization that is, as of the...

  15. APPENDIX A Anbar Province
    (pp. 79-80)
  16. APPENDIX B Time Line of Events in Anbar Province
    (pp. 81-84)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 85-92)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 93-93)