Women look at shoes inside a shop in Raqqa, Syria Photo: REUTERS
The Syrian businessman was enjoying a much-needed holiday in Turkey when the phone call came from the tax inspector of the Islamic State.
His business partner in Raqqa had been arrested, the inspector told him, and he would not be released until his company paid the $100,000 (£65,000) it owed the “Caliphate”.
“They told me that because I have a lot of money, I have to pay my share,” said Ammar, whose asked that his real name not be used. “They analyse your income and take a percentage.”
As Isil works to establish its empire, the jihadists have become fastidious bureaucrats: imposing taxes, paying fixed salaries and imposing trading standards laws in a bid to create a healthy economy that will sustain their autocratic rule.
Yet despite brutal punishments for those who break the laws, many Syrian businessmen see Isil as the only option when compared to the anarchy that prevails in areas controlled by other rebels, including Western-backed groups…