U.N. Report: IS in Sudan Financed Through Businesses in Turkey
Abu Bakr al-Iraqi, the leader of Islamic State group (IS) in Sudan, secretly finances his operations through businesses in Turkey, according to a recent report by the United Nations.
Investigators reported to the U.N. Security Council that al-Iraqi has several businesses in both Turkey and Sudan, including money exchanges and a tourism agency that he launched under fake identities.
IS has had a foothold in Sudan since 2019. Al-Iraqi’s operations in Sudan include 100 to 200 IS fighters who are, according to the U.N. report, “seasoned operators, but act as facilitators for logistical movements and transactions.” Al-Iraqi also has significant investments in Sudan.
Sudanese operatives use al-Iraqi’s resources to help other IS extremists move to southern Libya, Mali and West Africa, the investigators wrote in their report. Sudan’s civil war may attract fighters from other countries.
“Previously an exporter of foreign fighters and mercenaries, Sudan is now at risk of having the opposite directional flow, fighters from abroad traveling to the country to engage in combat on one of the belligerent sides,” the Soufan Center wrote recently.
Sudan’s ongoing conflict creates an environment in which al-Iraqi’s IS operations can thrive and even grow, according to experts. IS and its rival al-Qaida have used countries’ internal conflicts to gain greater traction elsewhere in Africa.
There are always concerns about extremists taking advantage of poor governance and power vacuums on the African continent, according to the Soufan Center.
“The al Qaeda and Islamic State networks in Africa will likely seek to use the Sudan conflict to improve their position on the continent,” researchers with the Institute for the Study of War wrote earlier this year.
Former Sudan dictator Omar al-Bashir allowed IS to operate in the country. Following the coup that deposed al-Bashir, security forces under the Transitional Sovereignty Council pursued IS terrorists in locations south of Khartoum.
In 2021, Sudanese security forces detained 11 foreign fighters during raids on three safehouses. Five members of the security forces died in the assaults.
The numerous inmates who escaped from prison in Khartoum beginning on April 22 –– soon after Sudan’s warring generals began their clash –– could contribute to IS’s growth in Sudan, the researchers wrote.
Al-Iraqi’s connections to Turkey are in line with other IS financial interests in the country.
“A growing body of evidence has emerged substantiating the utilization of Turkey by IS as a hub for funding its worldwide operations,” analyst Abdullah Bozkurt wrote recently for the Nordic Research and Monitoring Network.
Using another acronym for IS, Bozkurt wrote, “Al-Iraqi’s financial activities through Turkey fit into this larger trend, illustrating how ISIS has found it convenient to exploit the Turkish financial system for funds transfers.”