IRBIL, IRAQ — The Islamic State is accumulating gold, silver and copper in markets throughout northern and western Iraq, dealers report, in an apparent effort to stockpile enough precious metal to follow through on a pledge to mint its own currency.
On Nov. 11, the Islamic State’s Beit al Mal, an ancient Islamic term akin to “Department of Treasury,” announced that the group would reintroduce the dinar currency of the Umayyad Caliphate, which ruled an empire that stretched from modern Iran to Spain for much of the seventh and eighth centuries.
The announcement – which included images of three types of coins in gold, copper and silver – drew skepticism from experts, who doubted that the Islamic State could arrange a system to mint and issue a modern currency.
Zakaria Ahmed, 33, a Mosul resident who’s no relation to Osman Ahmed and whose brother is an Islamic State official, said he’d been told that the currency project was encountering difficulties because U.S.-led coalition airstrikes had made moving valuables more difficult. The airstrikes also have added to worries that any minting facility could be destroyed from the air.
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