A bombing target in ISIS-occupied Syria. Source: independent.co.uk
The terrorist group ISIS has been in the news a lot lately, especially as they continue to grow and recruit new militant fighters.
One key factor that makes fighting with ISIS so appealing to the people who join is the salary. According to the Congressional Research Service, ISIS soldiers can earn the equivalent of $400 to $1,200 every month, or $4,800 to $14,400 a year. That may not seem like much, but considering that the average yearly income in Iraq is only $4,000, it's not a bad deal.
Late last year, the ISIS government issued an internal message saying that "it has been decided to reduce the salaries that are paid to all mujahideen by half." The document was recently leaked and publicized by several news sources.
We believe that the United States-led coalition's bombing campaign is partially responsible for this massive pay cut, as the main targets have been oil equipment (trucks, storage, refineries). Recently, the campaign also targeted a building that served as sort of a bank for ISIS, holding millions of dollars worth of cash. Seeing that ISIS is forced to cut its fighters' pay could be a sign that these bombing runs are actually working.
I think that targeting ISIS's sources of money is a strategically good move, and will help weaken ISIS's recruiting abilities. Many of the fighters are joining ISIS to have money to send home to their families or for other financial reasons. However, I don't believe that this sort of military action is sustainable. Bombing ISIS-occupied territory may aid their fearmongering efforts in scapegoating the West. Additionally, ISIS will figure out other sources for money - they already get most of their finances by taxing citizens of occupied territory. Continuing to bomb them will become less and less effective.
What do you think? How big of an effect do you think this pay cut will have on ISIS's growth? Should the U.S. and other countries continue the current bombing campaign, or are there better, more sustainable options for the future? How large of a role should the U.S. try to play in combating ISIS?