The Islamic State is earning as much as US$1 million a day from selling oil to its known enemies, namely Turkish middlemen, Iraqi Kurds and the regime of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, the Financial Times reported, citing the US Treasury.
Speaking before the Carnegie Foundation, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence David Cohen stressed that while Turkey and the Kurdish regional government were committed to stopping the Islamist extremists’ oil flow, the group is still able to tap into a “longstanding and deeply rooted black market” to maintain their main source of income.
Turkey and the Kurdish regional government have denied that they bought oil from the Islamic State.
“[IS] has amassed wealth at an unprecedented pace,” Cohen was quoted as saying.
“The middlemen, traders, refiners, transport companies, and anyone else that handles [the militants'] oil should know that we are hard at work identifying them, and that we have tools at hand to stop them,” he said. “We will target for financial sanctions anyone who trades in [Islamic State's] stolen oil.
“We not only can we cut them off from the US financial system and freeze their assets, but we can also make it very difficult for them to find a bank anywhere that will touch their money or process their transactions.”
Aside from oil sales, the US intelligence community believes IS is earning “several millions” a month from extortion activities, the report said, adding that the group has gained more than US$20 million this year through ransom of foreign hostages, including several European journalists, the report said.
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