Date of release: Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Terror group making millions through illegal oil sales, says expertThe terrorist group known as Isis has been making $2.5 million a day in illegal oil sales, according to a University of Greenwich academic.

The oil is smuggled along existing routes set up under Saddam Hussein 30 years ago. George Kiourktsoglou, with colleague Dr Alec Coutroubis, found evidence of Turkey's involvement in illegal oil trading in a recent study.George, an expert on Maritime Security and Somali Piracy, is a researcher in the university's Faculty of Engineering & Science. He says: "We're talking about a maximum of 45,000 barrels of oil a day, between about July 2014 and April 2015. Given that the price of oil fluctuates daily, that's about $2-2.5 million a day, or $600-700 million in total.

"The trail runs from north west Iraq, along the Syria and Turkey border, through the south east Mediterranean before coming out at the port of Ceyhan in south east Turkey.

"About 10-20 per cent of the oil was shipped from Ceyhan. Total oil traded from there is currently about 550,000 barrels a day, so the rest was traded along the trail somewhere.

"Trading stopped in April 2015 but I have heard first hand recently that it started up again in the last few weeks. This is because a recent bombing campaign by the coalition destroyed an Isis 'treasury' – millions of dollars held in storage – in Iraq.

"This exerted pressure on the organisation to diversify so they started trading oil again as they needed to earn. It's like the Hydra, you cut off one head and two more pop up."

George adds that Isis is set up unlike other terrorist organisations in that it generates huge sums of money. Recent estimates suggest it has assets totalling $2 billion.

"Isis is the next evolutionary step in global terrorism because it controls its own financial resources," says George. "They trade weapons, human trafficking - this is mainstream crime.

Story by Public Relations