$120 million a month: SDF defector discloses massive revenues from oil sales

Apr 19, 2021

Nidal Ibo, a former financial official in the ‘Autonomous Administration’ in north Syria, whose family, including his wife and children, have been detained by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in an effort to stop him reporting SDF crimes, has revealed information about the organization’s massive financial deals, particularly concerning oil trafficking and the revenues from it.

Ibo, a Kurdish Syrian, was formerly the finance officer for the administration, controlled by the SDF (the Syrian affiliate of the PKK) in the city of Manbij in the countryside of Aleppo, also under SDF control, working within an administrative council team affiliated to the Autonomous Administration before his defection, with the SDF’s intelligence unit responding by arresting 10 members of his family, including his wife, his three young children and his parents.

In a television interview with the Kurdish 'Rudaw' news agency, Ibo explained that the PKK sells a ton of oil for 285 dollars to the Free Army factions in the Euphrates Shield area, while the regime pays 120 dollars, since the implementation of the "Caesar Law".

Ibo pointed out that the PKK gets 120 million dollars a month from the sale of Deir Ezzor’s oil, with the funds collected by the head of a dedicated SDF financial unit called Ali Sher (a Turkish national from the city of Suruj who has moved to Ain Al-Arab, Syria), which Ibo said is like a hidden bank for the party.

Ibo revealed that 40 million dollars goes to the commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces, Mazloum Abdi as a monthly budget, while the remaining $ 80 million is in the hands of the head of the finance unit, Ali Sher, with nobody but Sher knowing the fate of these funds.

Aybo noted that the oil sales network consists of Yasser Hazwani, Al-Qatirji and Abu Dalou, who receive their orders from the leadership of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), adding, “Ali Sher, Ibrahim Zendan, and Shahuz Hasan are all Turkish Kurds.”

Ibo said that the PKK is fabricating crises, such as the bread and diesel crisis, in order to raise the price of these materials, as people are ready to pay any price fearing losing access to these essential items again, while a one-off payment of 25 dollars is paid to the families of those killed by the SDF.

Ibo revealed the names of some of the officials doing deals with the PKK affiliate in Syria, including Ibrahim Zaidan who receives the oil, Halwa Latt in customs, Ali Shir in public finance, and Abu Dallu, the Assad regime's oil broker.

Although a group of human rights organizations have demanded that the ‘Self-Management Authority’ release Ibo’s family members, holding the administration responsible for his family’s safety as they are still detained in the prisons of the SDF’s intelligence service.

The organizations stressed the need for the SDF to release all members of this family unconditionally, and pointed out that this shameful incident should be followed up by communicating with the Ibo family, adding that they intend to issue a statement through the media about this incident, which they described as a disgrace to humanity.

The human rights groups indicated that the SDF is holding the family members, including women and children, hostage in order to put pressure on Ibo himself, having already falsely accused him of embezzling 4 million dollars and fleeing from their areas of control. These claims are shown as being even more implausible through the SDF’s shameful targeting of Ibo’s family, including his infant children, who are being forced to pay the price for his decision to expose the crimes of the SDF.

The Shaam News Network (SNN) communicated with Dr. Lazkin Mahmoud Ibo, Nidal Ibo’s brother and the eldest of Mahmoud Ibo’s children, now living in Germany, who told SNN the details of the case, revealing that the SDF took the family members, including his parents, hostage, saying they would release them when his brother Nidal, who had defected from the SDF, handed himself in. Dr. Ibo added that initially the SDF accused his brother of embezzling $3 million to justify this persecution of the family.

Dr. Lazkin told SNN that the case began when his 30-year-old brother, Nidal, who had been working for four years as a civil employee with the Manbij Board of Directors’ Department of Finance and Supervision, headed a committee set up to uncover corruption, during which he was able to uncover massive records of fraud involving senior officials in the administration itself, with this discovery exposing him to death threats, which led him to submit his resignation and then flee the region to an unspecified destination.

The doctor explained that immediately after this, the SDF’s Manbij Military Council charged his brother with embezzling a large sum of money, before carrying out raids on the family’s homes in Manbij, and seizing eight family members as hostages to pressure Nidal to surrender himself; these are, his father, Mahmoud Ibo aged 60; Rizan Mahmoud Ibo, aged 24; Ahmed Mahmoud Ibo, aged 16, who’s a baccalaureate student; Muhammad Mahmoud Ibo, aged 14; Nidal’s wife Amira Battran, aged 23, and the couple’s children, six-year-old Mahmoud Ibo, four year-old Zaken Ibo, and three-year-old Arian Ibo.

Dr. Lazkin confirmed to SNN that the SDF intelligence forces, known as the ‘Qasd’, took all the detainees to unknown destinations, confiscating their phones and severing all communications with the outside world, with nobody allowed to see or communicate with them, adding that the Qasd also rejected mediations and offers of intercession by prominent dignitaries in the area who intervened to try and help the family.

Dr. Lazkin said that the Manbij Military Council had demanded that the local dignitaries tell Nidal Ibo to surrender himself, adding that his family would be held hostage until this happened. The doctor talked about having documented discussions between himself and the local SDF leader over possible negotiations to secure the family members’ release, with the SDF official insisting that his brother should surrender himself in exchange for the family's release.

In the same context, the vice-president of the Syrian Kurdish Independents Association strongly condemned the SDF’s arbitrary arrest and detention of Ibo’s family, telling SNN in an interview about the issue that this action was completely unjustified and goes beyond being a crime of deprivation of freedom, ill-treatment and violation of the law, showing clear evidence of the absence of any judicial authority.

Human rights campaigner Radif Mustafa said that the SDF’s methods are "thuggish gangsterism", regardless of Nidal Ibo’s guilt or innocence, stressing that it is a blatant violation of human rights and the rights of the child to take a family hostage in order to force any accused person to surrender himself, and that the SDF’s actions in this case constitute a crime by any standards.

Original report from S.N.N. (in Arabic): http://www.shaam.org/news/syria-news/120-%D9%85%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%88%D9%86-...