David S. Cohen
Tonight, President Obama will outline a comprehensive strategy to degrade, dismantle and ultimately defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). As part of this strategy, the U.S. Department of the Treasury will intensify our efforts to undermine ISIL’s finances.
Over the past several years, financial measures – the mix of targeted financial and economic sanctions, financial transparency, and collaboration with international partners, all underpinned by financial intelligence – have become increasingly important tools in the President’s foreign policy and national security tool box. The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (TFI) applies these measures to attack and disrupt a range of threats to the United States, including terrorist organizations, aiming to disrupt their financing and expose their activities.
As part of this effort, Treasury has long targeted the external funding networks of ISIL and its predecessor, al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI). Since 2003, Treasury has imposed sanctions on more than 20 individuals affiliated with AQI or ISIL. In the last few months, Treasury sanctioned 'Abd Al-Rahman Mustafa Al-Qaduli, a senior ISIL official and, ‘Abd al-Rahman Khalaf ‘Ubayd Juday’ al-‘Anizi, an ISIL financier and facilitator.
Imposing targeted sanctions on ISIL officials and financiers to cut off external funding networks is an important element of our strategy to undermine ISIL’s financial foundation. But we are mindful that ISIL, unlike many other terrorist groups, also relies on significant funding derived from sources internal to Syria and Iraq, including criminal conduct such as smuggling, extortion, and robbery. It also has received millions of dollars through the despicable practice of ransoming hostages it has taken. And the group also benefits from sales of Iraqi and Syrian oil.
Working with others in the U.S. government and with partners overseas, we are focused on disrupting each of these sources of ISIL financing. Moreover, to impair ISIL’s ability to use the funds it has already acquired, Treasury is committed to ensuring that ISIL is unable to access the international financial system. In this regard, Treasury will continue to work with regional partners, particularly those in the Gulf, to ensure that they have the tools in place to combat terrorist financing and that they use those tools effectively.
We at the Treasury Department are hard at work to undermine ISIL’s financial foundation, as part of the broader strategy to degrade, dismantle and ultimately defeat this terrorist organization that the President will outline tonight.
David Cohen is the Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence at the United States Department of the Treasury.