UNITED NATIONS – Thirty-four militant groups from around the world had reportedly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State extremist group as of mid-December — a number that will only grow in 2016, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a report Friday.
Ban said U.N. member states should also prepare for an increase in attacks by IS-associated groups from countries such as the Philippines, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Libya and Nigeria, conducting international travel.
“The recent expansion of the ISIL sphere of influence across west and north Africa, the Middle East and south and southeast Asia demonstrates the speed and scale at which the gravity of the threat has evolved in just 18 months,” Ban said, using another abbreviation for the jihadi group.
Adding to the threat, IS is “the world’s wealthiest terrorist organization,” Ban said, citing estimates the group generated $400 million to $500 million from oil and oil products in 2015, despite an embargo.
According to the U.N. mission in Iraq, cash taken from bank branches in provinces under IS control totaled $1 billion. The mission also estimates that a tax on trucks entering IS-controlled territory generates nearly $1 billion a year, he said.
The extremist group captured large swaths of Iraq and Syria less than two years ago, and despite international efforts to oust them, Ban said IS continues to maintain its presence in both countries and is expanding to other regions.