Rhetoric and religion seem to have taken a backseat for fanatics when money comes into play. After financial woes forced ISIS to cut the salaries of its members by a huge margin, it suddenly found the militants dumping their loyalty to the group to head for rival organisations.

The terror group has faced a series of defeats recently as Kurdish and Arab forces gain ground in Iraq, compounding its monetary problems. The death cult is struggling to pay its fighters and recruit new ones to replace those who have either deserted, defected to other groups or died in battle, reports The Washington Post

b’File photo of ISIS militants Source: Reuters’

In September last year, the Daily Mail had reported that the monthly salaries of ISIS members had been cut from £260 (about Rs 26,000) to £65 (Rs 6,500), prompting about 200 militants to leave the group. Since then, the number of defectors has gone up, leaving a dwindling pool of fighters in the fundamentalist organisation.

The ISIS’s primary earning sources are bank robberies, stolen oil, human trafficking, selling of antiquities and heavy taxation of people in the areas they control. However, US-backed airstrikes have damaged its oil infrastructure and loss of territory has led to fewer people that the group can exploit for money. 

b’ISIS militants in Raqqa in June 2014. Source: Reuters’

Cash convoys between war zones have been reduced too, because of fear of drone attacks. Earlier in January, US jets had bombed an ISIS money facility in the Iraqi city of Mosul, a treasury of cash that was being used to pay terrorists. 

The incident had probably forced the militant group to announce a salary cut around January 20 this year. The statement, which had been accessed by The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights group, was published in The Guardian. An excerpt:

“Because of the exceptional circumstances that the Islamic State is passing through, a decision was taken to cut the salaries of the mujahedeen in half. No one will be exempt from this decision no matter his position, but the distribution of food assistance will continue twice a month as usual.”
b”Iraqi forces flying the country’s flag after reclaiming the town of Ramadi from the ISIS in December 2015. Source: Reutersxc2xa0″

Mohammed Saleh, co-founder of the group ‘Members of the Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently’, told The Washington Post that many foreigners who had joined the group are now desperate to leave. He added,

“Part of this is that these people are moving from vibrant cities like London or Paris. After a year of living in a place like Raqqa, they get tired of living without electricity and getting bombed all the time. They get bored, or they realize that the so-called caliphate is not what they were told it was.”

Analysts with other monitoring groups say that most of the “for-profit militants” in Syria are increasingly looking for better deals with other armed factions.