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In another sign that ISIS is not only losing ground, but losing the ability to finance its operations, the terror organisation’s Libyan offshoot has embarked on a new business venture in the streets of the coastal city of Sirte: selling chickens and eggs at a “very cheap price,” according to reports.
“When IS took over Sirte, they seized many properties, including farms, and some of these are very large chicken farms,” a former resident told Middle East Eye.
Most of ISIS’ revenue in the city still comes from taxation and rent, but their financial woes have deepened enough for them to moonlight as poultry sellers as well.
“Relatives tell me IS people can now be seen standing in the streets in their black outfits with their faces covered, selling both the eggs and the chickens. And they are selling the chickens for a very cheap price of just one or two dinars,” the source said.
The rental system ISIS has set up is pretty stringent. Shopkeepers pay rent, whether they own their shops or not, with an additional 10 Libyan dinars ($7.3) weekly charge for rubbish collections and street cleaning services. Some private residents have also received rent demands, the source said.
“There are some luxury beach apartments on the coast of Sirte, which used to belong to (late Libyan leader Muammar) Gaddafi, but where local people have lived since 2011, and IS visited people there and demanded rent money.”
Additionally, ISIS has been enforcing exorbitant taxes on so-called sinful items. Residents reportedly travel to nearby Al-Jufra to buy cigarettes for prices closer to the Libyan average.
“(Al-Jufra) is the closest city to Sirte. It’s the ordinary prices in all of the cities except Sirte,” another source told Middle East Eye. “If they capture you with a cigarette for first time, you will be flogged, second time, flogged, third time, maybe killed.”