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Today, Saudi citizens continue to represent a significant funding source for Sunni groups operating in Syria. Arab Gulf donors as a whole -- of which Saudis are believed to be the most charitable -- have funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to Syria in recent years, including to ISIS and other groups. There is support for ISIS in Saudi Arabia, and the group directly targets Saudis with fundraising campaigns, so Riyadh could do much more to limit private funding. U.S. officials have hinted that a combination of politics, logistics, and limited capabilities have impeded more effective Saudi efforts to counter terrorism financing. One particularly difficult problem is how to monitor cash transfers, a method common among Saudi donors.
RELATIVE IMPORTANCE OF SAUDI FUNDING
Although Saudi donors and other private contributors were believed to be the most significant funding source for the original forerunner to ISIS, the importance of such donations has been marginalized by the group's independent sources of income. This income, which is now estimated to overwhelmingly exceed private donations, is generated by activities such as smuggling (of oil, weapons, antiquities), extortion (e.g., the group levies around $8 million per month in "taxes" on local businesses), and other crimes (e.g., robberies, counterfeiting). The group's June 11 seizure of Mosul's central bank alone netted tens of millions of dollars (though U.S. officials note that the $400 million figure often cited in connection with the heist is not accurate).