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The Islamic State Seems Serious About Creating its Own Currency

Members of the Islamic State posted banners on walls and handed out fliers to drivers advertising the currency the group says it is developing.

by Payton Guion
Nov 19 2014, 7:30pm

Photo via Islamic State

Members of the Islamic State this week reportedly handed out fliers advertising the currency that it first announced last Thursday — indicating that the militant group appears sincere about minting new money.

All photos via Islamic State

Photos released by the Islamic State today also show large banners posted on walls in an unnamed town in Al-Furat, the group's name for the area it controls in Iraq and Syria, giving information about the planned currency.

According to a statement last week, the terrorist organization said it was creating the money to liberate the group from the "satanic usury-based global economic system."

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The group added that the currency would be outside "the tyrannical monetary system that was imposed on the Muslims and was a reason for their enslavement and impoverishment."

The Islamic State claimed that it would begin minting coins of gold, silver, and copper, with standardized values and weights, that will be accepted across Al-Furat. The timeline for rollout of the currency hasn't been announced.

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Currency experts are skeptical that an Islamic State currency could gain traction, even in land the militants control. It's not clear if the group has enough metal reserves to even make the coins, much less defeat the stigma that would accompany money bearing Islamic State insignia.

David Phillips, a former adviser at the UN, now at Columbia University's Institute for the Study of Human Rights, told the New York Times that no legitimate financial institution is likely to accept Islamic State coins, therefore defeating the basic purpose of currency. 

"It's like blood diamonds," Phillips said. "No credible financial institution is going to take this."

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Others have speculated that the push for creating a new currency is more propaganda than proposal, a way for the to call attention to its desire to be a recognized state.

"We've forgotten that this is not a military struggle. It's an ideological struggle with a proto-state," Anthony Cordesman, chair of strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told VICE News last week. "But they haven't forgotten, because they can't."

Follow Payton Guion on Twitter: @PaytonGuion