The Telegraph reports: The Syrian businessman was enjoying a much-needed holiday in Turkey when the phone call came from the tax inspector of the Islamic State.
His business partner in Raqqa had been arrested, the inspector told him, and he would not be released until his company paid the $100,000 (£65,000) it owed the “Caliphate”.
“They told me that because I have a lot of money, I have to pay my share,” said Ammar, whose asked that his real name not be used. “They analyse your income and take a percentage.”
As Isil works to establish its empire, the jihadists have become fastidious bureaucrats: imposing taxes, paying fixed salaries and imposing trading standards laws in a bid to create a healthy economy that will sustain their autocratic rule.
Yet despite brutal punishments for those who break the laws, many Syrian businessmen see Isil as the only option when compared to the anarchy that prevails in areas controlled by other rebels, including Western-backed groups.
Ammar, who deals in cars, houses and poultry, is largely secular and privately despises the jihadists (he refers to the Isil-held “capital” of Raqqa as “the big prison”).
Yet he admits that he now works almost exclusively in their areas, having had $150,000 worth of stock stolen by a gang in turf run by another armed faction. Likewise, when he traded in areas controlled by the Syrian government, he was detained by a pro-regime militia, who demanded a bribe of $25,000 for his release.
While Isil charges zakat, the alms payment in Islam – essentially an income tax – to those residents who can afford it, Ammar said businesses were protected from theft and corruption. [Continue reading…]