ISIS has received between $35 million and $45 million in ransom payments in the past year, a UN expert monitoring sanctions against al-Qaeda said yesterday. Kidnapping for ransom "continues to grow," per Yotsna Lalji, who offered this for comparison: An estimated $120 million in ransom was paid to terrorist groups between 2004 and 2012. Per the AP, she said that al-Qaeda and its affiliates have in recent years made kidnapping "the core al-Qaeda tactic for generating revenue." And while those revenues are up, ISIS' guard is down, at least according to Telegraph sources who say the terror group has eased up on "vetting" procedures in an effort to more quickly grow its ranks.
Strict security measures designed to ferret out undercover spies have apparently been relaxed, according to a Syrian living in Turkey who helps would-be jihadists enter Syria and spoke to the Telegraph using a pseudonym. He says he hasn't worked with any Westerners yet but has friends who have. Formerly, "stringent checks" (like references and background checks) had to occur before he could help someone; that's no longer the case, he says, and he adds that ISIS is growing as a result. The Telegraph acknowledges it can't verify his claim, but it did speak with a researcher with the Quilliam Foundation, which monitors jihadist activity. He says he's seen an uptick in chatter on forums about the eased regulations. (Read more ISIS stories.)