Jihadi Entrepreneurs and the IPO of the Century

ISIS is…an entrepreneurial organization consumed with finding innovative ways to make money.  One that isn’t tied down to territory, form of organization, or method of operation.  It can change on a dime if it generates more funding.

Combat Shooter's HandbookEmphasis is mine because that is what makes it virtually un-defeatable and totally undefeatable with the inappropriate strategy and tactics being used. Do you believe that the ruling class does not realize that? Of course they do! How can you tell? In this case, it is not to hard to find and follow the money! — jtl, 419

by John Robb of Global Guerrillas

The Betrayed: On Warriors, Cowboys and Other MisfitsOne of the most interesting aspects of ISIS?  The diversity of their cash flow.  They make money from tariffs to taxes to smuggling to oil production to hostage taking to the plundering of art/antiquities/etc..

This isn’t your standard 20th Century terrorist group, yet they haven’t built the bureaucracatic structures we expect of a nation-state.

Environmental & Natural Resource Economics: The Austrian ViewThey are something in between.  Let’s explore this a bit.

  • Nation-states are organizational constructs built to do one thing: to mobilize economies and populations for total war.  In fact, nation-states were so good at doing that one thing, they’ve killed off all competitive systems of governance.  To mobilize in this way, nation-states have built a plethora of ways to extract resources from the economies they dominate and bureaucracies to automate the process.
  • In contrast, terrorist and many guerrilla groups of the last Century were dependent on donations from nation-states and wealthy sympathisers. A dependency that reminds me of the famous line from the delusional Blanche DuBois — “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”
  • ISIS is somewhere in between these two extremes.  It’s an entrepreneurial organization consumed with finding innovative ways to make money.  One that isn’t tied down to territory, form of organization, or method of operation.  It can change on a dime if it generates more funding.

The Essence of Liberty: Volume I: Liberty and History: The Rise and Fall of the Noble Experiment with Constitutionally Limited Government (Liberty and ... Limited Government) (Volume 1) The Essence of Liberty: Volume II: The Economics of Liberty (Volume 2) The Essence of Liberty: Volume III: A Universal Philosophy of Political Economy (Liberty: A Universal Political Ethic) (Volume 3) This isn’t completely new.  ISIS is part of a trend.  The return of an entrepreneurial, commercial approach to violence has been going on since 2004.  Since then, we’ve seen lots of evolution in the marketplace.

A Handbook for Ranch ManagersPlanned Grazing: A Study Guide and Reference ManualFor example, although private military companies were the early leaders in the return of commercial conflict (the number of contractors in Iraq outnumbered US military personnel), they were dependent on government financing.  So, when that financing ended, they wilted.

In contrast, jihadi entrepreneurs have been on a roll.  They’ve been innovating since the US left Iraq.  They’ve found new sources of income from both conquered territory and black globalization, mastered the use of the Internet for marketing and networking, developed a form of fundamentalist Islam that provides group cohesion and appeal, and opportunistically taken advantage of regional weaknesses to acquire a huge amount of territory (with 8 million people in it).

However, despite its maturation as a start-up, ISIS still hasn’t entered the big leagues.  To do that, it needs to do one thing.  It needs Saudi Arabia.  Saudi Arabia offers one thing to the jihadi entrepreneurs that no other place can offer.  It’s not Mecca and Medina.  Those holy sites, although extremely important to the cohesion and legitimacy of the jihad, come in a close second to the real goal.

To the jihadi entrepreneurs consumed 24×7 with making enough money to keep ISIS going, Saudi Arabia is the end game.  Almost unlimited amounts of loot.  A mountain of loot.  Enough loot to finance the unlimited expansion the jihad.   A chance to mint new Emirates by the boatload.

To these entrepreneurs, this is the IPO (initial public offering) of the Century.  An event so financially fruitful it makes the IPOs of Google, Facebook, and all of their Internet brethren pale in comparison.  Given this trajectory, the only question is when? When will ISIS pivot south and go IPO?


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