Now that extremist Islamic jihadis are finally being given the international attention that has been lacking in Syria and Iraq for so long and are now being targeted—be it from the air or by ground troops of the men and women of pesh merga of Kurdistan—I think it is now the time to call these creatures what they are: criminals engaging in a massive criminal enterprise. Whereas Hezbollah engages in narco-terrorism, fueling their military might with drug money; now we have “ISIS”, or as President Obama refers to them, “ISIL”, or as folks who speak Arabic refer to them as “Da’ash”. They have exchanged the proven successful drug model for oil, as any clever businessman would do if the source of their wealth was derived from an illegal substance with speculative supply sourcing. Think of how the American Mafia evolved from its halcyon days of bootlegging illegal alcohol into real estate and political power that was unmatched in American history and you almost get a preview of coming attractions with Da’ash.

The truth of Da’ash, which they try to hide from would-be recruits worldwide, is that they are a massive extortion ring. And they are being helped all along their supply chains, both by Gulf states which gave them their starting capital, and the Turks who buy reduced rate oil and sell it to others. Da’ash members are not the religiously-pure Islamists they want potential members to believe they are. They have amassed millions of dollars in a very short time—perhaps even shorter than South American drug cartels did with such ease. Frankly, you won’t find such tactics being taught at the Wharton School of Business.

Kidnappings and the selling of women in makeshift slave markets for profit is also part of their business model. Judging by the thousands of rapes of innocent Syrian Kurdish and Iraqi Yazidi women recently attest to the fact that these jihadis are not that careful with their “merchandise”. The stigma that these women face should they become pregnant and later give birth to babies borne of rape is another matter altogether.

As reported here yesterday, and neither confirmed nor denied, was the fact that the Fijian UN troops captured in the Golan were just release by the al Nusra Front for a reported $20 million in cash paid to them by Qatar. Under American bank reporting systems, any amount over $10,000 is flagged for review by the tax authorities. Europe also has safeguards in place, which means that the one great place to hide questionable cash is in the Gulf Sates.

One Iraqi bank was robbed in Mosul in the Da’ash’s first major rampaging campaign through Iraq, which yielded them $450 million. And since no one gives free airtime to recruiters of violent jihad, and maintaining websites encouraging jihad costs money, this really does beg the question of why Westerners have not dried up the funding capital of such groups? If you think jihadis drive around in stolen American Humvees carrying that amount of cash on them, guess again. They learned from Hezbollah to hide liquidity in cooperating banks. If you think it is a simple matter to wire that amount of kesef, also, take another guess. I can tell when a family member sends me Hanukkah or birthday money, for heaven’s sake. Does anyone really think walking into a bank with literally tons of cash is going to be a big secret to the bank tellers or that they won’t know its source?

Stealing antiquities for sale on the black market is also a lucrative affair for Da’ash. Basically, no one would be interested in buying something like a valuable ancient relic unless they already knew its value, and did not bother to question either the exorbitant price tag or the bargain-basement price you couldn’t refuse.

Extortion, rape, murder, mass executions, robbery, destruction of private property, lives destroyed, homes ruined, families asunder. Call these things what they really are: crimes committed by violent criminal gangs. They use the religion thing as the “hook” to recruit the naïve and just plain stupid. They simply forget to include their crimes in their recruiting brochures.