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10 Powerful and the World´s Richest Terrorist Groups

Whether it’s ISIS, Boko Haram or Al-Qaeda, terrorists have caused chaos across the world, massacring thousands and destroying entire cities.

Much of the strength of terrorist organizations lies in the interdependence they create between themselves and the region in which they operate. Economic interdependence in particular is what makes these forces of violence and hate so difficult to combat.


10Real IRA, Ireland – 50 million dollars

Since their formation in 1997, the Real IRA have claimed responsibility for over 50 attempted bombings across the UK – including attacks on the BBC and MI6. Their bombing in Omagh left 28 dead, including 6 children – one just 18 months old. Fighting to remove Northern Ireland from the UK and create Irish state, they´re funded by donations from some of the USA´s 35 million Irish-Americans as well as illegal trade in electronics, oil and even cattle smuggling.

09Boko Haram, Nigeria/Cameroon – 52 million dollars

Kidnapping is one of Boko Haram´s key incomes – in 2013 they received 3 million to free a single family, and in 2014 they snatched 276 schoolgirls, selling many into slavery. This revenue is supplemented by bank robberies and collaborations with drug cartels. Their campaign to stamp out Western influence and enforce Sharia law is ongoing. Their deadliest attack came in January 2015 when they massacred up to 2000 people, burning many alive in their own homes.

08Al-Shabaab, Somalia – 70 million dollars

Created to overthrow the Somalian government in order to form an Islamic caliphate, Al-Shabaab collects an estimated 50 million dollar annually through tolls and taxes. Their revenue funds attacks like the 2013 Kenyan shopping mail siege. Lasting 4 days, they claimed the 67 civilian lives. They´ve called for similar attacks on the Mail of America and London´s Oxford Circus. Imposing the rarely used Islamic Hudud law, in 2013 a 13-year-old rape victim was stoned to death for adultery.

07Lashkar-e-Taba, India/Pakistan – 100 million dollar

Seeking to end Indian rule in Kashmir, this group are renowned for committing “fidayeen” attacks, where heavily armed suicide-squads hit selected targets. One 4 day raid in 2008 saw twelve attacks, involving bombings and shootings, carried out across Mumbai – the 10 gunmen responsible killed 166 people and injured over 600. Donations from Pakistani expatriates largely contribute to their 100 million revenue. It´s rumored that ISI, Pakistan´s intelligence agency, also supply money in return for attacks against India.

06Al-Qaeda, Afghanistan/Pakistan – 150 million dollar

Formed by Osama bin Laden in the aftermath of the Soviet war in Afghanistan, Al-Qaeda aims to unite Muslims under Sharia low. As part of their jihadist campaign against the USA and its allies, on September 11th 2001 they committed the deadliest terrorist attack in history, killing almost 3000 people and ushering in the War on Terror. Today funding primarily comes from drug trafficking and kidnapping. Unproven theories suggest initial funding and training stemmed from the CIA.

05Taliban, Afghanistan/Pakistan – 400 million dollar

Seeking to regain control of Afghanistan the Taliban use funds from their extensive opium and heroin ring to wage a powerful insurgency against US-led forces in the region. During their 1996-2001 rule of the country, football stadiums become scenes of execution were law-breakers were stoned to death or buried alive in front of huge crowds. They even carried out an ethnic cleansing campaign against the Hazara people, massacring 8000 civilians in one single, locking many in containers until they suffocated.

04Hezbollah, Lebanon – 500 million dollar

Described as the “A-team of Terrorists”, prior to 9/11 these Shai militants were the terror group to have killed the most Americans. Formed during the 1980´s Israeli invasion of Lebanon, they´ve evolved into a political party-many countries don´t classify the entire organization as terrorist. Their income stems from drug smuggling and donations – they annually receive an estimated 250 million dollar from Iran. With an arsenal of 50.000 rockets, they fire them into Israeli towns – hitting schools and hospitals.

03FARC, Colombia – 600 million dollar

Fighting the capitalist regime in Colombia, FARC controls 30% of the country from their base in the country´s jungles. Responsible for one of the world´s largest drug-trafficking networks, they´re behind 50% of global cocaine sales, generating 500 million dollar each year. They kidnap and demand ransoms, currently holding 700 people captive, primarily wealthy businessmen. During their 2012 attempt to paralyse Colombia´s infrastructure they toppled electricity towers, blew up transmission lines with dynamite, and planted land mines, killing those attempting to restore power.

02Hamas, West Bank/Gaza – 1 billion dollar

Aiming to form a Palestinian state at the expense of Israel, Hamas diverts 15% of Gaza´s economy into its own accounts. They also receive millions of dollars annually from Qatar. While Hamas is generally recognized as a political organization, several states classify its military wing – the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades as terrorists. They´ve been responsible for suicide bombings and rocket attacks into Israel. Between 2000 and 2006 they´re thought to have carried out 51 suicide attacks, killing 272 people.

01ISIS, Iraq and Syria – 2 billion dollar

The richest terrorist group in history is thought to earn 3 million a day from oil, earning additional revenue through taxation and looting. They hope to create an Islamic state across the Middle East by using their 80.000 fighters to slaughter those they consider infidels – in 2014 they killed 5000 Yazidi people and sold 7000 into slavery. So violent that Al-Qaeda cut links to them, footage shows them throwing gay men from buildings and burning alive in cages.
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